Childhood obesity linked to infant weight gain, phthalates
There is a growing body of evidence that the current problem of obesity can be traced back to childhood, even back to the womb. A recent post reported that 1 in every 5 4-year olds is overweight or obese. In this post I present the latest research updates on childhood obesity.
The growth charts and obesity
Researchers at the Harvard Medical School report that the rate of weigh gain during the few months of infancy is an indicator of risk for obesity later in life. The researchers did not only look at the weight gained by babies but also at the length as well as the weight-length relationship. After all, babies are growing in different dimensions. The study results suggests that babies who gain weight rapidly during the first few months are more likely to be overweight at early childhood, even as early as age 3. While this research brings good news to moms who worry because their babies are not gaining enough weight as specified in the growth charts, this is worrying news for moms like me whose kids did gain weight rapidly during the first few months after delivery. I had twin preemies, one of them clearly underweight, but somehow managed to almost catch up with his brother in just a few months. Both did gain weight fast mainly due to a combination of pumped breast milk and specially fortified formula for preemies – and well, the fact that they are such good drinkers. I’m glad to say, though at after almost 6 years, they never had any problems with weight due to a combination of proper diet and sufficient exercise.
BPA, phthalates and obesity
Some more bad news about phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). Phthalates are those potentially carcinogenic chemicals found in cosmetics and other toilet products (including baby products!). BPA is the potentially harmful chemical found in plastic (including plastic baby bottles!). These two chemicals could potentially be linked to childhood obesity. Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine measured high levels of BPA and phthalates in the urine of overweight kids. These two chemicals are considered to be endocrine disruptors that interfere with hormones that regulate growth and development. More studies are needed to clarify their roles in childhood obesity.