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Parents, take note! Tall children have higher risk of developing obesity

Greater childhood height before 12 years of age may be a marker for increased risk of subsequent obesity, warn researchers.

If your child is growing too fast or suddenly becoming taller than most of the kids of the same age, keep a check on his/her diet. Researchers have revealed that children who are relatively tall for their age are more likely to become obese.

The link between children's height with body mass index (BMI) and body fatness has been shown in previous studies too. For the new study, the researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined the health records of 2.8 million children. They studied the children's growth rate from the time when they were 2 years old till they reach 13, re-examining them after every four years. As shown by other studies, the US researchers also found that taller children are more likely to have a higher body mass index than shorter children.

Among the thinnest children, the prevalence of obesity was found to be 5-fold higher in the tallest children than in the shortest children (3.1 per cent versus 0.6 per cent). The respective prevalence rates of obesity among the heaviest children were 89.5 per cent versus 53.4 per cent.

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Based on their finding, the researchers concluded that greater childhood height before 12 years of age may be a marker for increased risk of subsequent obesity. The use of height may be a simple way to more accurately classify which children will become obese later, they added.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

If your child is obese, there could be many factors contributing to his/her weight gain. These include eating disorders, lifestyle, certain habits, surrounding environment, family history, and medical problems.

Eating too much and exercising too little is the main cause of childhood obesity. When children eat more than they need, the extra calories in fat cells are stored for later use. When not used, this stored energy develops more fat cells and make the children become obese. Dear parents, think twice when you tell your child to finish everything on his/her plate. Experts say that children are very good at listening to their bodies' signals of hunger and fullness and so they will stop eating as soon as they are full. If you make them eat everything that is served to them, you're actually forcing them to ignore their fullness, which in turn increases their weight.

If either you or your partner is overweight and have poor diet and exercise habits, your child is likely to adopt the same habits. Eating a diet high in fat or sugar and few nutrients can cause your kid to gain weight quickly. Fast food, candy, soft drinks, and sugared cereals are common culprits. Moreover, restaurants are also reinforcing overeating habits in children by promoting high-calorie foods and large portion sizes.

But some children may be at greater risk for obesity due to genetic factors. In this case, inherited genes from their parents make their bodies gain weight easily. Obesity is also linked to rare genetic conditions, such as Prader Willi syndrome. Certain medical conditions like hormone disorders or low thyroid function, and certain medicines, such as steroids or anti-seizure medicines, can increase a child's appetite. Over time, this can increase the child's risk of obesity.

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