Adult obesity and growth in childhood

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7325.1320 (Published 08 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1320

Children who grow rapidly during childhood are more likely to be obese as adults

  1. Catherine Law, senior lecturer (claw@mrc.soton.ac.uk)
  1. MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton SO51 0QJ

    Over half of all adults in the United States and the United Kingdom are overweight, and developing countries are increasingly facing the public health problems of overnutrition as well as undernutrition.1 In the past 20 years or so, the prevalence of obesity and overweight in both adults and children has increased dramatically.2 These time and geographical trends argue against a primarily genetic cause of obesity, and both behavioural and pharmaceutical interventions in obesity have limited effectiveness.3 Prevention through environmental, social, or behavioural interventions is a logical focus for tackling this epidemic.

    The possibility of preventing adult obesity by taking action in infancy and childhood is attractive. Several studies have shown a weak relation between being heavy at birth and becoming overweight in later life. Others have found that faster growth in childhood predicts obesity in adulthood.4 In this week's issue (p 1331) Parsons et al replicate these findings in a large British birth cohort study followed to age …

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