Objective: To identify risk factors associated with obesity in primary school children, with a particular focus on those which can be modified. To identify critical periods and growth patterns in the development of childhood obesity.
Methods: 871 New Zealand European children were enrolled in a longitudinal study at birth and data collected at birth, 1, 3.5 and 7 years of age. Data collected at 7 years included weight, height, bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), television viewing time and a 24 hour body movement record (actigraphy). The outcome measure was percentage body fat (PBF), which was calculated at 3.5 and 7 years using BIA. Univariate and multiple regression analyses were carried out using PBF as a continuous variable.
Results: Multivariable analysis found maternal overweight/obesity, maternal age, female gender, sedentary activity time and hours of television viewing to be independently associated with PBF at 7 years. Growth variables (birth weight, rapid weight gain in infancy, early (1 to 3.5 years) and middle childhood (3.5 to 7 years)) were also independently associated with adiposity at 7 years. There was a strong correlation between PBF at 3.5 years and PBF at 7 years.
Conclusions: Many primary school aged children start on the trajectory of obesity in the preschool years which suggests interventions need to start early. Maternal overweight/obesity, television watching, sedentary activity time and rapid weight gain in infancy, early and middle childhood are risk factors for childhood obesity, and are all potentially modifiable.
- catch up growth
- child, obesity
- percentage body fat
- risk factors
- small for gestational age
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