Children who start to rapidly gain weight at a younger age are more likely to have higher blood pressure and other signs of future heart troubles as soon as they become preteens, according to new research, reported by Reuters.
Previous studies have suggested children who put on weight in early childhood are more likely to be obese later in life. The new research adds to those concerns.
“There’s a natural tendency early in life for children to thin out as they grow taller and gain stature faster than they gain weight,” Dr. Mark D. DeBoer, who studies childhood obesity at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told Reuters.
Daniels studies preventive cardiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, where he chairs the Pediatrics Department. Neither he nor DeBoer was involved in the new study.
Researchers led by Dr. Satomi Koyama of Dokkyo Medical University in Mibu, Tochigi, Japan, followed 271 children born in 1995 and 1996. Kids had their weight and height measured at least once every year through age 12 during infant health checks and then physical exams at school.
From looking at each child’s growth pattern, the researchers determined when children hit their lowest BMI, the age at adiposity rebound. After that, they got bigger every year.
Koyama’s team found the earlier both boys and girls reached that turning point, the heavier they were at age 12.
For instance, boys who started getting bigger around age three had an average BMI of 21 as preteens. That’s the equivalent of a five-foot-tall boy weighing 108 pounds.
Boys who didn’t start getting bigger until at least age seven had an average BMI of 17 – the equivalent of the same boy weighing 87 pounds.
Boys who had their adiposity rebound at a young age also had higher triglycerides and blood pressure at age 12. Although their numbers were still in the normal range, they could hint at signs of future heart problems, the researchers wrote Monday in Pediatrics.