Formula to Predict Childhood Obesity from Birth

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Researchers at the Imperial College London have determined a simple formula that allows parents to predict childhood obesity. After studying data from a sample of 4,000 Finnish children, collected in 1986, they found that simple facts about the baby at birth, and parental characteristics were more effective at predicting obesity in childhood than any genetic factors. The formula takes into account the weight of the baby at birth, the body mass index of father and mother, if the mother was a smoker, and the mother’s profession. The formula correctly predicted that the top 20% highest risk children made up 80% of the obese children. The accuracy held true for the Finnish sample, Italian, and American children.

Scientists hope that the formula will help to predict and prevent childhood obesity, which is very hard to reverse after children have already gained weight. They hope that providing more education to parents with high-risk children on nutrition, safe portion size, and healthy eating will help to decrease the number of children who become obese.

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