Skip to content

    Health & Baby

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Infant Weight Gain May Predict Obesity

    Studies Show Links Between Early Weight Gain and Risk of Adult Obesity
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    June 9, 2008 -- There is growing evidence that babies who gain weight rapidly during the first few months or years of life may be at increased risk for obesity as they get older.

    Three new studies, published in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, support the hypothesis that early growth is predictive of weight during adolescence or adulthood.

    In one of the studies, researchers from the health research organization Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in France followed children from birth to age 5, identifying two critical periods in which early-life weight gain appeared to influence later obesity risk.

    The first critical period occurred in the first few months of life and the second occurred after age 2.

    "Between these periods, growth seemed to be preferentially directed towards height and not weight," researcher Marie-Aline Charles tells WebMD.

    Early Weight Gain and Obesity Risk

    In a separate study from Finland, researchers found little evidence of an obesity link associated with rapid weight gain before the age of 2. But rapid weight gain after the second birthday was found to be a risk factor for obesity later in life.

    The study included 885 Finnish men and 1,032 women between the ages of 56 and 70, whose childhood weights and heights were known from medical records.

    Rapid weight gain before age 2 was associated with increases in lean mass while rapid gains later in childhood predicted higher body fat in adulthood.

    In the third study, rapid weight gain during the first six months of life was found to increase obesity risk later in childhood.

    Researchers from London's Institute of Child Health investigated the associations between weight gain during different periods in infancy and later body composition in 105 boys and 129 girls living in the U.K.

    The three studies are not the first to link early growth to later obesity.

    An analysis of 24 such studies, published in 2005, suggested a link between rapid weight gain before age 2 and obesity later in life.

    Baby's First Year Newsletter

    Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
     
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.
     

    mother holding baby at night
    ARTICLE
    mother with sick child
    QUIZ
     
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    SLIDESHOW
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    TOOL
     
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Slideshow
    Mother with her baby boy
    Article
     
    baby in crib
    Slideshow
    baby gear slideshow
    Slideshow