Chubby teens turn into obese adults

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Australian researchers have found that when it comes to predicting obesity it is the teenage years which are critical.

A team of researchers at the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart tracked a large group of Australian children from 1985 to 2005 and they found that children who were overweight or obese were up to nine times more likely to become overweight adults.

The researchers checked the weight the children were when they were between 7 and 15 years old and then again when they were between age 25-35.

The study involved 8,498 children taking part in the Australian Schools Health and Fitness Survey, of this number 2,208 men and 2,363 women completed a follow-up questionnaire at age 24–34 years in 2001–2005.

Height and weight measurements were taken in 1985, and self-reported at the follow-up, the data of which was checked in 1,185 participants for accuracy.

Overweight and obesity in childhood were defined according to international standard definitions for body mass index (BMI), and in adulthood, as a BMI of 25–29.9.

Lead researcher Professor Alison Venn says the research found that many people who had healthy weights as children became overweight or obese during adolescence, a time when people become more independent and more responsible for their own meals.

Childhood obesity has become more common in Australia in recent decades and Professor Venn suggests that better ways are needed to promote healthy eating and physical activity.

The research results support findings done in the UK and the U.S. which have also established a correlation between childhood and adult BMI, where only a minority of obese adults had been obese or overweight in childhood.

The results are published in the current issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

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