Obesity is predicted by the mother’s level of education, her body mass index (BMI) and her child’s BMI, new research finds.
BMI is a value that determines if a person has a healthy weight for their height.
The BMI of children, especially between 6 to 7-years-old, is the best predictor if they will be fat or have a healthy weight by adolescence.
For every unit increase in BMI in a child of age 6 to 7 the chance of putting on weight or being obese by age 14 to 15 is tripled.
Also, the chances of successfully losing weight reduce by 50 percent by the time the child reaches adolescence.
For every unit increase in the mother’s BMI, the chance that this child will be overweight or obese by age 14 to 15 increases by 5 percent and the chance of losing weight will decrease by 10 percent.
The mother’s education was the third important factor to predict whether or not the child will have weight problems in the future.
The study found that children whose mothers had a university degree had lower odds of being overweight or obese and were more likely to resolve weight issues in their teens.
Children with all these three risk factors were 71 percent more likely to be overweight or obese by adolescence.
The likelihood of having weight issues by adolescence was only 13 percent in children with none of these risk factors.
Dr Kate Lycett, study co-author, said:
“In the case of BMI, it is an objective measure that is easily measured and reflects diet and exercise choices, but is free from the challenges of assessing physical activity and diet in a standard clinical appointment such as recall bias.”
Dr Lycett suggests that medical professionals can use these three factors to be able to predict with 70 percent accuracy which children will have weight problem or resolve the issue.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in International Journal of Obesity (Juonala et al., 2019).