Research Roundup: Focus on childhood obesity

Recent studies in the International Journal of Obesity:

Kids these days are getting fatter sooner and staying that way longer. In academese, reviewing data from 1976-2006, “Recent birth cohorts are becoming obese in greater proportions for a given age, and are experiencing a greater duration of obesity over their lifetime.” Lest we debate the measurement technique, obesity was defined as a body mass index greater than or equal to 95th percentile for individuals aged 2–16 years or greater than or equal to 30 kg/m–2 among individuals older than 16 years. This is quite unambiguously obese regardless of fitness.

Factors involved in childhood obesity are complex. In a study of over 11,000 children in the UK, researchers found a few, somewhat disparate, factors intersected:

  • higher body mass index at age 3
  • Bangladeshi or black ethnicity (“black” here not otherwise defined, which is a problem given the diverse somatotypes covered under this vague category)
  • mother overweight during and/or after pregnancy
  • father overweight
  • smoking in proximity to child (either while mother was pregnant or in the household)
  • being an only child

Interestingly, although I think we can all agree that tons of TeeVee isn’t good for anyone, lots of TV affects children who are already overweight more than normal-weight children, suggesting a cumulative cascade.

Oh, and piglets are considered a good methodological proxy for children. Draw your own conclusions.

All studies in the latest ish of International Journal of Obesity (April 2010) 34 no.4.