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Obesity and Respiratory Infection in Infants and Young Children

Br Med J 1971; 1 doi: (Published 02 January 1971) Cite this as: Br Med J 1971;1:16
  1. V. V. Tracey,
  2. N. C. De,
  3. J. R. Harper


    A controlled trial has been carried out to test the widely held “clinical impression” that overweight infants have a greater liability to respiratory infections than those of normal weight. Two matched groups of children aged between 3 months and 2 years were studied, containing children whose weight was above the 90th percentile, or was between the 25th and 75th percentiles, at the start of the trial.

    Data from 120 children of the overweight group were available for analysis, of whom 47 experienced at least one respiratory infection during the trial and 73 did not. Of children remaining over the 90th percentile at the end of the trial 19 had suffered respiratory infections and 28 had not. One baby in the overweight group suffered a “cot death” from acute bronchiolitis. In the control group, 103 cases were analysed—23 had suffered a respiratory infection and 80 had remained free of respiratory infection throughout the trial. These figures are statistically significant and suggest that obesity in infants and young children is associated with an increased incidence of acute respiratory infections.