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Study: Fat Panic Can Start As Early As Two Months Old

Parents of newborns have enough to worry about. But if you pay attention to the new study by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, an infant's body mass index at two months is a good indicator whether he or she will be obese by age 2.

Researchers found BMI better predicts early childhood obesity than weight-for-length, the current standard measurement.

According to the study, WFL charts don't have an age component. Changes in weight and length occur at different rates during infancy, and knowing the exact age and length when evaluating excess weight gain may gauge whether the infant is healthy. Numbers are below from the study's press release (Statistics are not in Strutter's forte):

"In the current research, the study team analyzed medical records of nearly 74,000 full-term infants seen during their first two years at well-child visits in the CHOP pediatric network from 2006 to 2011.

"The authors found it remarkable that 31 percent of two-month-old babies with BMI at or above the 85th percentile were obese at age two, compared to 23 percent of two-month-olds at the 85th percentile by WFL. At the 97.7th percentile for BMI at age two months, 47 percent of babies were obese at age two years compared to 29 percent by WFL."

This bit of info sounds like a scare tactic in the Fight Against Obesity (as if there are people out there who WANT to be unhealthy). Chances are if no one in your family is obese, your child won't be, either.

As someone who was diagnosed as "obese" and put on countless diets from the age of three, Strutter has some advice to parents who are concerned about their baby's physical (and mental) health: A high BMI is not a death sentence. If your child's weight keeps climbing despite what you feed him or her, it's best to see a pediatrician for testing.

There is that other pearl of wisdom: Children learn from what they see. Are you instilling a healthy diet and daily exercise in your day-to-day? If not, maybe now's the time to do it. Relying on a study's statistics and expecting your child to eat right and work out if you don't is irresponsible and lazy. Otherwise, one of the messages your kid is getting from you is, "Do as I say, not as I do." Another message your child is getting is they're not good enough, which will do more damage to your child's wellbeing than the numbers on scale will ever show.


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