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Researchers Explain Why Tackling Appetite Holds The Key To Preventing Childhood Obesity

Update Date: Feb 18, 2014 09:29 AM EST

A heartier appetite results into more rapid infant growth, according to new researches. The new studies have also linked the heartier appetite with the genetic predisposition to obesity. 

The research explained how weight gain is linked to reportedly two aspects of appetite. These two aspects of appetite are lower satiety responsiveness and higher food responsiveness. 

Out of two papers published in JAMA Pediatrics related to obesity, one of them revealed that infants with a heartier appetite grew more rapidly till age of 15 months which potentially puts them at increased risk for obesity.

"Obesity is a major issue in child health" said Professor Jane Wardle, lead author of the study from the UCL Health Behavior Research Centre in the press release. "Identifying factors that promote or protect against weight gain could help identify targets for obesity intervention and prevention in future. These findings are extremely powerful because we were comparing children of the same age and same sex growing up in the same family in order to reveal the role that appetite plays in infant growth."

"It might make life easy to have a baby with a hearty appetite, but as she grows up, parents may need to be alert for tendencies to be somewhat over-responsive to food cues in the environment, or somewhat unresponsive to fullness. This behavior could put her at risk of gaining weight faster than is good for her."

Another paper noted that low satiety responsiveness acted as one of the mechanisms that lay under genetic predisposition to obesity. Researchers considered 2,258 10-year old children born in UK between 1994 and 1996. 

"As expected, we found that children with a higher PRS score (more obesity-risk' genetic variants) were likely to have larger BMI and waist circumference," said Dr Clare Llewellyn, lead author from the UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre in the press release. "But more importantly, we also found that these children were more likely to have low satiety responsiveness"

"This suggests that satiety sensitivity could be targeted for pharmacological and behavioral interventions, to prevent or treat obesity. For example, children with lower satiety sensitivity could be taught techniques that might improve their fullness signals when eating, such as slowing their eating speed. Another approach might be to provide better advice to parents and children about appropriate portion sizes, limiting access to 'second helpings' and ensuring tempting treats are out of sight between meals."

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