Kids who start rapidly gaining weight early in childhood are
more likely to have higher blood pressure and other signs of future heart
trouble as preteens, a new study suggests.
"There's a natural tendency early in life for children
to thin out as they grow taller and gain stature faster than they gain
weight," Dr Mark D. DeBoer said.
But eventually, all kids hit a point when they start gaining
weight at a faster pace, and their body mass index (BMI) - a measure of weight
in relation to height - begins to rise. That point is called the adiposity
The adiposity rebound typically happens around age four to
six, DeBoer, who studies childhood obesity at the University of Virginia in
Charlottesville, told Reuters Health.
Some studies have suggested children who start to put on
weight at a younger age are more likely to be obese later in life.
The new report adds to those concerns."It helps I think
give us a better understanding of what this might be impacting in addition to
obesity," Dr Stephen Daniels said. Daniels studies preventive cardiology
at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, where he chairs the
Neither he nor DeBoer
was involved in the new study. Researchers led by Dr Satomi Koyama of Dokkyo
Medical University in Mibu, Tochigi, Japan, followed 271 children born in 1995
Kids had their weight and height measured at least once
every year through age 12 during infant health checks and then physical exams
From looking at each child's growth pattern, the researchers
determined when children hit their lowest BMI, the age at adiposity rebound.
After that, they got bigger every year.
Koyama's team found the earlier both boys and girls reached
that turning point, the heavier they were at age 12. For instance, boys who
started getting bigger around age three had an average BMI of 21 as preteens.
That's the equivalent of a five-foot-tall boy weighing 49 kg.
Boys who didn't start getting bigger until at least age
seven had an average BMI of 17 - the equivalent of the same boy weighing 39.4
Adiposity rebound risk factors
Boys who had their adiposity rebound at a young age also had
higher triglycerides and blood pressure at age 12. Although their numbers were
still in the normal range, they could hint at signs of future heart problems,
the researchers wrote in Paediatrics.
For girls, the link between age at adiposity rebound and
heart risks was smaller but still visible."Physicians should be tracking
body mass index and should be checking for kids who are headed in the direction
of being more obese," Daniels said.
But, he told Reuters Health, parents and paediatricians
won't be able to tell exactly when children are at their adiposity rebound. And
it's not clear how to prevent it from happening early."There's a strong
possibility that these are children who inherited a genetic predisposition that
made them more likely both to have early adiposity rebound and to have
metabolic syndrome earlier in life," DeBoer said.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors, including
high blood pressure, that are linked to heart disease.
"The message is probably still more general, in terms
of families working with paediatricians and family physicians to make sure that
families have a healthy diet (and) that they have healthy opportunities for
activity," Daniels said.