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Seven Risk Factors For Obesity at Age 3

>> Monday, July 22, 2013

A recent study looked for risk factors that influence a child’s likelihood of being overweight by age 3.  The study looked at over 13,000 children aged 6-12 months in the UK, and followed their data to age 3 to determine whether any factors could predict the risk of being overweight at age 3. 

Out of 33 different possibilities studied, they found seven characteristics that were associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity at age 3.

The 7 factors that are associated with a higher risk of a 3-year-old being overweight are:
  • Mother smoking in pregnancy increased the rate of the 3-year-old being overweight by 33%
  • Children who are not breastfed were 25% more likely to be overweight at age 3 than those who were ever breastfed
  • Mom being overweight before pregnancy
  • Dad having obesity
  • A higher weight at birth
  • Gender: girls were more likely to be overweight at age 3 than boys
  • Early weight gain: babies who rapidly gained weight during their first year were 4 times more likely to be overweight at age 3 than those who grew at an average weight

So why do we care if a 3 year old is overweight?  Doesn’t the weight just balance out over time?  While many kids will go through different phases of body fat storage as they grow, it is a fact that overweight in childhood does increase the risk of that individual being overweight in adulthood.  So while it would not be appropriate to get carried away with intense weight management of a three year old, what we can learn from this study is that there are things we can look at in our own lives that could be modified to improve the health of our offspring. 

While some of the above risk factors are modifiable (eg smoking), others are not.  Knowing that there are many benefits to breastfeeding, most mothers these days do choose or try to breastfeed, but it isn’t always successful.  Parental obesity has been shown to be associated with weight struggles in their offspring, both in childhood and as those children become adults, so it is important to reach out for help with a weight struggle not only for a person's own health and well being, but also for that of their kids.  

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 



I am excited that you have arrived at my site, and I hope you are too - consider this the first step towards a Healthier New You!! As a medical doctor, Endocrinologist, and obesity specialist, I am absolutely passionate about helping people with weight management. Though there is certainly no magic cure for obesity, there IS a successful treatment plan out there for you - it is all about understanding the elements that contribute to your personal weight struggle, and then finding the treatment plan that suits your needs and your lifestyle. The way to finding your personal solution is to learn as much as you can about obesity: how our toxic environment has shaped us into an overweight society; the diversity of contributors to obesity; and what the treatment options out there are really all about. Knowledge Is Power!!

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