The researchers examined records from a pediatric practice of 111 children whose body mass index (BMI) exceeded 85 percent of the general population. Researchers determined that these children had started gaining weight in infancy at an average rate of .08 excess BMI units per month. On average, this progression began when the children were three months old. Over half the children became overweight at or before age 2 and 90 percent before reaching their 5th birthday.
The study suggests, its authors say, that obesity prevention efforts should begin before age two, when children reach a "tipping point" in a progression that leads to obesity later in life. "Our study suggests that doctors may want to start reviewing the diet of children during early well-child visits," said principle investigator Dr. John Harrington, an assistant professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
"Getting parents and children to change habits that have already taken hold is a monumental challenge fraught with road¬blocks and disappointments. This study indicates that we may need to discuss inappropriate weight gain early in infancy to affect meaningful changes in the current trend of obesity."
Citation: Harrington et al., 'Identifying the Tipping Point Age for Overweight Pediatric Patients', Clinical Pediatrics, February 2010; doi:10.1177/0009922809359418