These potentially complex interrelationships may hold the key to effective preventive strategies.
Tessa Parsons and colleagues used data collected from all children born in England, Scotland, and Wales in the week of 3-9 March 1958, to establish whether birth weight is related to obesity at different life stages.
Not surprisingly, they found that heavier mothers have heavier babies and these children tend to become heavier adults.
| Rapid growth up to age 7 years increased obesity risk.
| British Medical Journal |
They also found that rapid growth in childhood (up to age 7) increased the risk of obesity in adulthood, especially in men who had been light at birth or who had thin mothers.
This is an important finding, as this pattern of growth is becoming common in developing countries that are experiencing a nutritional transition to Western lifestyles, writes Catherine Law in an accompanying editorial.
Instead of concentrating research efforts on developing drug treatments for established adult obesity, perhaps we should use what we know already to design and evaluate social, behavioural, or policy interventions, which prevent children from becoming overweight, she concludes.