Obese children don't have to remain that way if certain challenges are overcome by the time they are adolescents.
Research recently found that obese children often do become obese adolescents, but they are less likely to do so if they do not have an obese parent or if they watch less television than children who are not obese.
The purpose of the study was to understand all the factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic. According to the study authors, led by Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD, of Boston Children's Hospital, “Understanding factors associated with the transition into and out of obesity would inform efforts to address the obesity epidemic."
3961 public school children were studied, initially in fifth grade and later when they were in tenth grade. Researchers determined the height and weight of the children and one parent. Students answered survey questions about TV habits, diet, exercise habits, and their body image.
The team found that 19 percent of the fifth graders and 18 percent of the 19th graders were overweight. 26 percent of the fifth graders were obese, and 20 percent of the tenth graders had remained obese.
"It is frequently stated that most of our habits are formed between ages 11-21 years old. The studies show, however, that in 5th grade which is typically around 11 years old, many children already have poor eating habits as well as poor self image," said Boston pediatrician Thomas Seman, MD.
"Obviously we need to start earlier in identifying these children and educate and support them in making better decisions. Further educating parents is also very important since we know the power of their influence on their children)," Dr. Seman said.
Overweight children were those who were heavier than 85 percent of the other children. Obese children were heavier than 95 percent of the other children