Health Toddlers

Study: Obesity May Be Set During Toddler Years

toddler eatingA new study on obesity in childhood has found a link between weight during the toddler years and weight later in life.

This study followed more than 100 children and teens that were considered obese. Dr John Harrington, an assistant professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, lead the study and feels the findings are a wake-up call to doctors and health officials. What was found was that among the obese children studied, more than half were considered overweight when they were only 2 years old. By 5-years-old, 90 percent were described as overweight already. All of the children were labeled obese by the age of 10.

Researchers working on this study feel the results show that weight problems can begin much younger than previously thought. Some of the researchers feel that a poor diet could be to blame for the weight problems. Food preferences can often be established early in life.

However, not everyone agrees. Many feel that obesity is more about genetics than eating habits. Unless a direct link between the children in the study and their diet is connected, the study could show that weight is predetermined.

Genetic studies have shown that the particular set of weight-regulating genes that a person has is by far the most important factor in determining how much that person will weigh. The heritability of obesity—a measure of how much obesity is due to genes versus other factors—is about the same as the heritability of height.

Whatever the cause of obesity, Dr. Harrington hopes this study will encourage doctors to look at possible signs before medical complications arise.

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About the author


Summer is a mom of three, living life in the slow lane along historic Route 66. She writes, homeschools, gardens, and is still trying to learn how to knit.

1 Comment

  • I didn’t become obese until I was 13. I gained 70 pounds in about 6 months. I wasn’t an overly thin child, but I wasn’t fat either. We ate a fairly healthy diet for a lower middle class family. Soda and sweets were limited to special occasions, and vegetables (although usually canned) were a big staple of our meals.

    However, everyone in my family is fat. Both of my parents were fat and all of my siblings are fat. Among my mother’s family, almost all the women are fat and about half the men. Among my father’s family, obesity is more unusual, with only about 20% being obese. For me, I see a strong genetic possibility in my siblings and my obesity. It happened the same for all of us. None of us significantly changed our diets as we got older, but suddenly around puberty we started gaining weight.

    Of course, we all know now that we are, and likely were even then, insulin resistant. My brother and sister progressed to diabetes around the age of 45. My doctor put me on meds when I was 40, before I became diabetic, and it’s staved off the diabetes for the time being.

    I truly believe that this so-called obesity epidemic is going to eventually be found to have more of a basis in genetics and/or in other undiscovered environmental causes than it does in diet and exercise.

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