Emergence and Persistence of Obesity in Mid-childhood Is Found To Be High

Matthew PearceMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Matthew Pearce
NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Despite evidence to suggest that the prevalence of childhood obesity in the UK has stabilized in recent years, we know that approximately one in five children start their school life either overweight or obese, increasing to one in three children by the last year in primary school. Our research was the first to undertake an in-depth analysis on the UK’s National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) and retrospectively track the weights of individual children over a 7-year period. Our study included a sample of 1863 children in South Gloucestershire, Bristol in the UK.

Our results were found to be similar to cross sectional data with obesity prevalence approximately doubling between the first (4/5yrs old) and last year (10/11yrs old) of primary school. Our findings provide little reassurance that those children who are obese in early childhood ‘grow out of ’ excess adiposity. Including overweight, we found that 84% of obese children at Reception year went on to be either overweight or obese by Year 6. Although previous studies have failed to identify any significant differences in BMI change between boys and girls during mid-childhood, our research found that more boys than girls dropped a weight category (from overweight or obese) by the time they reached Year 6. We found that the odds ratios of being overweight (BMI ?85th percentile) or obese (?95th percentile) based on BMI at Reception were similar to published literature. Our data found children who are within the upper range of the healthy weight category (75th–85th percentile) at Reception had an increased risk of being overweight or obese by the time they reach year 6.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Previous research has shown that weight status tracks from childhood to adulthood; therefore, many of the overweight and obese children in our sample will become obese adults, and this will have a significant impact on their future health and self-esteem. They will develop conditions like gynecomastia which will lead them to needing the help of sites like http://studentsfitness.com/get-rid-man-boobs-gynecomastia/. Our findings suggest that parents and health professionals should be more vigilant in recognizing children at risk of becoming obese. It is therefore important that preventative efforts are focused towards children who are likely to be on the path to obesity. Raising the potential risks with parents in terms of healthy growth is crucial to prevent future health problems, particularly as evidence suggests many parents and health professionals underestimate obesity in children and its importance.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Current NCMP guidance recommends feedback to all parents around the four different weight categories (underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obesity).Our study indicates that health providers should place more emphasis on tailoring feedback based on a child’s percentile rather than weight category, in particular highlighting that those children at the upper end of the healthy weight range are likely to increase their BMI if a healthy lifestyle is not adhered to. Further research should be undertaken to understand what strategies were undertaken by children and their families for those who achieved a positive shift in weight status. Further research should also be undertaken to explore the gender differences found in our study.


Changes in objectively measured BMI in children aged 4–11 years: data from the National Child Measurement Programme
Matthew Pearce, Sarah Webb-Phillips, and Isabelle Bray

J Public Health first published online May 6, 2015 doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdv058

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Matthew Pearce (2015). Many Overweight and Obese Children Will Become Obese Adults

Last Updated on May 12, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD