More children developing obesity before leaving primary school than before, finds study
USA: A recent study, published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has shed light on the changes in the incidence of childhood obesity. The study suggests that more and more children (particularly Black children) that enter kindergarten at a normal weight are developing obesity by the end of fifth grade. The researchers reported a higher incidence of...
USA: A recent study, published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has shed light on the changes in the incidence of childhood obesity. The study suggests that more and more children (particularly Black children) that enter kindergarten at a normal weight are developing obesity by the end of fifth grade.
The researchers reported a higher incidence of childhood obesity, an occurrence at younger ages, and increased severity in young people born in the 2000s than 12 years previous implying that more youths may now be at risk for adverse health outcomes associated with the early onset of diabetes. This was despite the fact that they were exposed to more intensive efforts for diabetes prevention than earlier cohorts.
"Approximately 40% of today's high school students and young adults experience overweight or obesity before leaving primary school, "Solveig A. Cunningham, Hubert Department of Global Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and collages wrote in their study.
Before the study, it was already known that there is a high prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States, and obesity in early life is linked with long-term poor physical and mental health. The study was conducted with the objective to examine childhood obesity incidence across recent cohorts.
For this purpose, the researchers studied obesity incidence and prevalence in 2 cohorts of children in the US 12 years apart. An annualized incidence rate and cumulative incidence proportion of obesity were investigated. Obesity was measured on the basis of BMI z-score ≥95th percentile based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weight-for-age z-scores.
Key findings include:
- Among children who did not have obesity at kindergarten entry, there was a 4.5% relative increase in cumulative incidence of new obesity cases by end of fifth grade across cohorts (15.5% vs 16.2%), though annual incidence did not change substantially.
- The risk of incident obesity for children who had normal BMI at kindergarten entry stayed the same, but the risk of incident obesity among overweight kindergartners increased slightly.
- Social disparities in obesity incidence expanded: incidence of new cases during primary school among non-Hispanic Black children increased by 29%, whereas risk for other race–ethnic groups plateaued or decreased.
- Children from the most socioeconomically disadvantaged households experienced 15% higher cumulative incidence across primary school in 2010 than 1998.
"Incidence of childhood obesity was higher, was more severe than 12 years previous, and occurred at younger ages; thus, more youths may now be at risk for health consequences associated with early onset of obesity," the authors concluded.
Solveig A. Cunningham, Shakia T. Hardy, Rebecca Jones, Carmen Ng, Michael R. Kramer, K.M. Venkat Narayan; Changes in the Incidence of Childhood Obesity. Pediatrics 2022; e2021053708. 10.1542/peds.2021-053708
Medha Baranwal joined Medical Dialogues as an Editor in 2018 for Speciality Medical Dialogues. She covers several medical specialties including Cardiac Sciences, Dentistry, Diabetes and Endo, Diagnostics, ENT, Gastroenterology, Neurosciences, and Radiology. She has completed her Bachelors in Biomedical Sciences from DU and then pursued Masters in Biotechnology from Amity University. She has a working experience of 5 years in the field of medical research writing, scientific writing, content writing, and content management. She can be contacted at email@example.com. Contact no. 011-43720751