Girls who gain weight rapidly at childhood are more likely to be obese at age 24

There is a need for prevention in young adulthood.

A high BMI throughout childhood is associated with negative health outcomes in adulthood including obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to researchers in a paper, in Eating Behaviors. IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES/ENERGYY
A high BMI throughout childhood is associated with negative health outcomes in adulthood including obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to researchers in a paper, in Eating Behaviors. IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES/ENERGYY

High childhood BMI, especially in girls, is linked to obesity at the age of 24. This new discovery enlights the importance of prevention in childhood and adolescence.

In the study conducted by Penn State, scientists used collected data from a 10-year longitudinal observational study. In the original study, the researchers gathered 197 non-Hispanic white girls all 5 years in age.

The first investigation discovered four distinct BMI trajectory groups dependent on patterns of growth between the ages of 5 and 15. The four groups were classified as

  • Accelerated weight gain from ages 5 to 15;
  • Accelerated weight gain from 5 to 9 followed by a leveling-off;
  • Weight tracked along the 60th percentile; and
  • Weight tracked along the 50th percentile.

Scientists found that the first group accelerated weight gain from ages 5 to 15 had higher fasting insulin, blood pressure, and triglycerides at age 15 than the other groups.

In the next follow-up study, scientists found 182 of the 197 unique members when they were 24 years of age, 10 years after the last contact. The analysts sent studies that asked the women to self-report their weight, height, education level, dieting, relationship, student and work status. The omen who announced having a kid was rejected from the follow-up.

The researchers found the accelerated weight gain from ages 5 to 15 group had a 93 percent rate of overweight or obesity at age 24 compared to just 20 to 37 percent in the other three groups.

Emily Hohman, assistant research professor of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research said, “We found that about 20 to 30 percent of girls who did not have accelerated weight gain in childhood or adolescence ended up having overweight or obesity at age 24.”

“This shows how eating behaviors and lifestyle choices can impact BMI as well. For future work, the researchers plan to test additional psychological and physiological measures in person.”

“We would love to bring the women back in to get additional data on eating behaviors and health.”

The co-authors of the study include Elizabeth L. Adams, a graduate student in health and human development; Michele E. Marini, research technologist III and statistician; and Jennifer S. Savage, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research.