"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

March 28, 2005

Factors That Contribute to Childhood Obesity

From Scotsman News (snippet, emphasis added):

Twelve steps on a baby's road to obesity


....Researchers have unearthed the dozen key factors in the early stages of a baby’s life which trigger obesity, including more than four hours a week of television, too long spent in the family car, and not enough time in bed. The warning follows growing concern that one child in 10 is now clinically obese on entering primary school in Scotland, and one in five is obese by Primary 7.

The research was conducted at the University of Glasgow and involved tracking 7,000 children across the UK from 12 weeks before they were born until the age of seven. More than 20 different aspects of each infant’s life were measured and then studied to see whether they were a direct cause of obesity. Researchers eventually found a dozen factors, independent of the child’s social status, that trigger obesity.

Some were obvious. Toddlers fed ‘junk’ food in pre-school years and whose parents were themselves overweight were likely to be obese in later childhood life. But other results were startling. A mere four hours of television a week for an average toddler was found to be a definite factor in future obesity, the researchers concluded.

Pre-school children who watched more than 11 hours of television a week were found to stand double the risk of becoming obese by the age of seven than those who didn’t watch television at all.

Meanwhile, spending too much time in the car was also judged a major risk factor. Nearly one in four toddlers who were strapped into their baby seat for more than two hours a week turned out to be obese in later life.

A lack of sleep was also identified. Babies who slept fewer than eight hours a night were found to be three times more at risk of obesity than those who slept for more than 12 hours.

Researchers even found that being a lone child increased the risk of obesity. They had no explanation for this, other than that such children might be more likely to be spoiled. The other factors identified as being a risk for future obesity were mothers smoking during pregnancy, formula feeding, early weaning on to solid food, high birthweight, high weight in infancy, excessive weight gain in infancy and premature weight ‘rebound’ - or when a child regains the weight it loses after birth at a quicker rate than usual....

Except maybe for high birthweight, most of these are under the control of parents. Society needs a program to educate parents about these risks of obesity for their kids. I'm SURE the Bush-war Administration will get right on this and set aside some money in the budget to fund this necessary health program.

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