A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is stating that close to 50% of children who are deemed obese in eighth grade were obese children before they even entered kindergarten. Obesity prevention needs to start earlier or the childhood obesity epidemic will continue to grow.
A third of children in the United States are overweight or obese.
We have known for a long time that the percentage of children who are overweight or obese continues to rise in the United States. An increase in dependence on fast foods with a decrease in overall physical activity has been to blame. But little information has been discovered to identify which children will become obese and the age at which it will develop.
Solveig Cunningham from Emory University believes that the risk of obesity begins early on in life set by large birth weight and environmental factors. The new study appears to support this claim and efforts to reach children before they enter kindergarten will need to improve.
The obesity study tracked 7,700 children spread throughout the United States as they went through grade school. In their first year of school twelve percent of children were obese and fifteen percent were overweight. Once these children reached eighth grade seventeen percent were overweight and twenty one percent were obese.
The study showed that race was a factor in the increase of obesity rates among children as they went from kindergarten to eighth grade. Obesity increased in whites by 65%, 50% in Hispanic children and close to 120% in children who are black.
Income played a factor in obesity rates as well. Children from wealthier families had the lowest obesity rates while obesity was the most prevalent in students who were close to the bottom of the income brackets.