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 4 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 5-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."
David S. Freedman, Ph.D., Lead Author, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Freedman, D.S., et al. (2020) The Longitudinal Relation of Childhood Height to Subsequent Obesity in a Large Electronic Health Record Database. Obesity. doi.org/10.1002/oby.22901.