New Study Identifies Children of Kindergarten Age at Risk of Obesity
A study published in the online journal Pediatrics has determined that a large number of kindergarten age children are at risk for obesity.
The study involved examining 9 years of data regarding the height and weight of almost 6,000 white, black, and Hispanic schoolchildren. Information was collected as part of an ongoing Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.
The researchers noted that the proportion of overweight children increased significantly during the elementary school years. Excess weight gain was especially prevalent among Hispanic and African American girls.
Children of normal weight were found to be gaining excess weight, and children who were already overweight were continuing to gain weight. Large numbers of kindergarten age children were showing signs of increased body mass index (BMI), suggesting that they were at risk for becoming overweight or obese.
According to the study, 40 percent of children starting kindergarten had a BMI greater than the 75th percentile. Children with a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentile are considered to be overweight, whereas children with a BMI greater than the 95th percentile are actually obese.
There are several explanations for the apparent marked weight gain among young children. Increased availability of high-calorie snacks marketed for young children may be contributing to the problem. The sedentary lifestyle encouraged by too many hours spent playing video games or watching television may also be causing young children to put on excess weight by taking time away from physical activity which burns calories.
The researchers note that their findings point to the importance of providing interventions aimed at preventing obesity during the early elementary school years. Waiting until children reach adolescence may be ineffective as many children will have already gained excess weight, placing them at risk for health issues associated with obesity.
Source: CBS News