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Does a Child’s Height Affect Their Future Risk of Obesity?

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Children who are relatively tall for their age have a higher risk of developing obesity, according to a new study published in Obesity.

In the study, investigators examined the health records of 2.8 million children who were initially examined between 2 and 13 years of age. When they were re-examined an average of four years later (but up to 13 years later), taller children were more likely to have a higher body mass index than shorter children.

For example, among the thinnest children at the start, the prevalence of obesity at the second exam was five-fold higher in the tallest children than in the shortest children (3.1% versus 0.6%). Among the heaviest children at the start, the respective prevalence rates of obesity were 89.5% versus 53.4%.

The association between taller height and obesity at the second exam was strongest in children who were initially examined when they were younger than 7 years old.

‘As about half of this association is independent of the initial body mass index of the child, the use of height may be a simple way to more accurately classify which children will become obese,” said lead author Dr David Freedman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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