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Kindergarten Weight May Predict Obesity Risk

Update Date: Jan 30, 2014 11:10 AM EST

Children's weight in kindergarten may predict their risk of becoming obese, according to a new study.

Researchers found that kids who were overweight in kindergarten were four times as likely as normal-weight counterparts to become obese by 8th grade.

The latest study, which involved data on children who participated in an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the U.S. Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, focused on the rate of incidence of obesity in overweight and normal weight children starting kindergarten.

The children were divided in to three groups based on their body mass index: normal weight, overweight, and obesity.

The findings revealed that over 12 percent of children entering kindergarten are obese, and over 14 percent of children entering kindergarten overweight are four times more likely than their normal weight peers to become obese in eighth grade. The study also revealed that children who were large at birth and overweight by kindergarten have the highest risk of becoming obese by 14.

"Although trends in the prevalence of obesity are well documented, there is surprisingly little known about new cases of childhood obesity," researcher Solveig A. Cunningham, PhD, assistant professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Rollins School of Public Health, said in a news reslease. "Examining incidence may provide insight into the nature of the epidemic, the critically vulnerable ages, and the groups who are at greater risk for obesity."

"Our findings uncovered several important points by examining incidence over time," added Cunningham. "We have evidence that certain factors established before birth and during the first five years are important. Obesity-prevention efforts focused on children who are overweight by five-years-old may be a way to target children susceptible to becoming obese later in life."

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