Important research on childhood obesity was published a week after Thanksgiving, a holiday ironically known for food indulgence. The study peers deeply into the problem of obesity, looking at the very roots of the issue beginning in infancy. A large multi-national group of researchers asked the question,

Is it possible to predict a baby’s risk of becoming an obese teen or adult?

The answer was, yes. A surprisingly simple formula requiring only six pieces of information was 85% accurate in predicted risk of obesity in a group of 4000 Finnish adults followed since 1986.

Other populations including a U.S. population of children with more diverse, different genetic backgrounds have been studied as well. The power of the prediction remains good at 74% in the U.S. group. 

The U.S. struggles with both adult and childhood obesity. Recent American Heart Association data reports 1 in 3 children are overweight/obese. Cook Children’s CCHAPS study shows comparable information to the national trend with 31% of children in our eight-county area who are obese/overweight.

Families, communities, organizations, and government continue efforts to combat childhood obesity. The information gained from this study, however, represents a call to action for parents and families. Information is now available even before a child enters pre-school or elementary school regarding risk for obesity.

 Life changes for the whole family can be made and could start now. New traditions of healthy eating or activity can be created. Resources are available including our own Cook Children’s blog.

 My family and I have a tradition of doing a  5K/fun races around the Holidays. We did the Dallas Turkey trot this year. Consider for the family a holiday run such as a Christmas day run, or if you aren’t ready for a run, begin with a 30 minute walk after eating. Make sure the entire family joins in on the activity.

 The prediction formula uses metric information. Use the following links to convert information into metric units.

 We all know that obesity is a major problem facing our children today. They are at risk of becoming the first generation to not outlive their parents. But we can do something about, beginning with a few lifestyle changes. And that’s the key – beginning.

As a self-described ‘techie,’ Joel Steelman, M.D., has a keen interest in the wise use of technology to improve medical care. Since 2001, he has helped implement electronic medical recordkeeping in two endocrine practices. He loves to write, and he is a regular contributor to the Physician Perspective  page on the Cook Children’s Web site.

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