Calculator devised that can predict childhood obesity risk at birth
Scientists at Imperial College London claim they have constructed a formula that could predict a new-born baby’s chance of becoming obese as they get older. The calculator is available online for anybody wishing to test it out, with researchers hoping that parents analyse the results seriously and take positive steps now to help avoid weight creeping onto their child in future years. The need for such a formula could be due to the fact that an alarming 17% of boys and 15% of girls aged between two to 15 in England are currently in the obese category of body mass index (BMI) classification. If your BMI is between 30 and 40, you would be considered obese. Although the online calculator has targeted how babies will develop in the future, a survey published this year unearthed damning statistics showing just over a quarter of all adults (26%) in England are obese. The Researchers from Imperial College London studied 4,032 Finnish children all born during 1986 and also analysed information extracted from two other studies; one involving 1,503 Italian children and another that included 1,032 U.S. children. It was initially considered if an obesity risk could be determined by studying genetic profiles. Accurate predictions were not able to be found though using the tests on this theory. In fact it was estimated that only about one in 10 cases of obesity is a direct result of a rare gene mutation that influences a person’s appetite. Instead, it was found that simple non-genetic factors could be used such as if the child’s mother smoked or not and the baby’s birth weight. Prof Philippe Froguel from Imperial College London, led the study and he and his team managed to refine obesity risk factors to just six pointers which they say together can provide an accurate reading of a child’s chance of becoming obese. The first question requests both parent’s BMI as many health experts argue that children of overweight adults are more likely to become overweight as well due to picking up bad dietary habits. Next, the calculator asks for how many people are in the household as it is believed that single-parents have less time to spend properly taking care of their child and thus the child has a higher chance of becoming obese. Following questions then ask for the mother’s professional category, if the mother smoked during her pregnancy and finally the birth weight (in kg) is required to be entered. The calculator was used on the children in Finland, Italy and the US, and was found to be a fast and credible method of producing an obesity risk. Prof Froguel said that prevention methods held the key to tackling the problem as once a child has become obese, they usually find it difficult to drop the extra weight. He said: “The equation is based on data everyone can obtain from a new-born, and we found it can predict around 80% of obese children. Unfortunately, public prevention campaigns have been rather ineffective at preventing obesity in school-age children. Teaching parents about the dangers of overfeeding and bad nutritional habits at a young age would be much more effective. The message is simple. All at-risk children should be identified, monitored and given good advice, but this costs money.” Publishing their findings in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers stated they believed parents could be provided with more information about breastfeeding – a factor linked to a reduced risk of a baby becoming obese later in life. They also said the time spent watching television should be greatly reduced and parents should avoid giving their children fizzy drinks. Ironically only two days ago Medical Specialists Pharmacy actually reported on many of the health dangers associated with such drinks. If you have already become an adult and gained weight though, it is not too late to lose the extra lbs. and feel the benefits. There are so many reasons to lose excess weight if you are overweight or obese. It is absolutely not something you should consider to begin in the future, start today! The health benefits include: . You will find it easier to breathe. . The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is greatly reduced. . Blood pressure decreases. . Improved mobility, with less aches and pains. . Lowers cholesterol levels. . Decreases the risk of sudden death from a stroke or heart disease. . Weight loss and being in good health promotes better sleep and waking with more energy. . Weight loss can improve fertility. 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