New Risk Factor in Childhood Obesity?

On February 6, 2010, in Uncategorized, by Andrea

As a mother of a tall 3 1/2 year old, I hope not.  I hope she got her skinny papa’s genes.  Really hoping she keeps her, get this, BMI of 14.5.  Her brother isn’t far off with a BMI of 16.

From Medscape:

Children Tall for Their Age Are More Likely to Be Obese

By Sue Mulley

HONG KONG (Reuters Health) Feb 03 – Children who are tall for their age are more likely to be apple-shaped (abdominally obese) than their counterparts, according to a British study presented at the First International Congress on Abdominal Obesity.

These tall-for-age children also are more likely to be generally overweight or obese, and have higher body fat percentages, said Dr. David McCarthy of the UK’s London Metropolitan University.

Dr. McCarthy and his colleagues studied 2,298 Caucasian children aged 5-14 years, measuring their height, weight, percent body fat and waist circumference, and calculating their body mass index (BMI).

The children were given a statistical score based on their height adjusted for age and divided into four groups from shortest to tallest.

Rates of high BMI, high body fat percent and bigger waistlines ranged from 8-13% in the shortest group of children and from 33-52% in the tallest group.

“These findings suggest that being tall for age is not only a risk factor for general overweight/obesity in children, but particularly for abdominal obesity,” the researchers emphasized.

“Height and central fat reserves are related, and this has been overlooked in the obesity field,” Dr. McCarthy told Reuters Health in an interview.

He continued, “In any population of children, those who are overweight or obese classified by BMI tend to be taller than normal weight children. How did they become that tall in the first place? And what’s the link between that height and the accumulation of central fat?”

“As obese children grow taller, they tend to grow fatter and even more centralized in their fat distribution. Somehow their growth trajectory is taking off more than you would expect from looking at the height of their parents,” he said.

Dr. McCarthy and his colleagues have data on roughly 8,000 children in London and the surrounding areas. They are in the process of analyzing information on South Asian and Afro-Caribbean children.

“We see children who are at greater risk of developing abdominal obesity related to ethnic background and level of income, but we don’t know what is driving the accumulation of central fat in these children,” he said.

“I think it could be related to the postnatal diet, perhaps artificial feeding, and very early growth patterns.”

“If you have a low birth weight baby, the natural response of the parents is to feed that child up, to get him to grow and catch up to where he should be for his age… maybe it’s a combination of being a small baby and rapidly growing in the first two or three years of life that seems to put you on a trajectory for storing fat centrally,” he noted.

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