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Early Weight Gain May Predict Childhood Obesity

Last Updated: March 31, 2009.

The rate of weight gain in the first six months of life can indicate childhood obesity, but one simple and effective intervention may be to encourage children to drink more water, according to two studies published in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of weight gain in the first six months of life can indicate childhood obesity, but one simple and effective intervention may be to encourage children to drink more water, according to two studies published in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

In one study, Elsie M. Taveras, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues measured the length and weight of 559 babies at birth, 6 months and 3 years. The weight-for-length (WFL) z score was calculated at birth and at 6 months, and multivariate regression analyses were used to predict obesity at age 3. The researchers found that each incremental increase in six-month WFL z scores increased the chance of obesity. The probability of obesity at age 3 was 40 percent among infants in the highest WFL quartiles at both birth and at 6 months.

In another study, Rebecca Muckelbauer, of the Research Institute of Child Nutrition in Dortmund, Germany, promoted water drinking among second- and third-graders at 32 schools in Germany. Teachers presented lessons to encourage water drinking in an intervention group (N = 1,641), while a control group (N = 1,309) did not receive the lessons. After one year, the risk of being overweight was reduced by 31 percent in the intervention group compared with controls.

"The reduction in consumption of sugar-containing beverages did not reach significance, probably because our prevention program did not actively discourage drinking of those beverages but only promoted water consumption," Muckelbauer and colleagues write.

Abstract - Taveras
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Abstract - Muckelbauer
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