Obese kids: Not all hope is lost

August 6, 2018 by Nardy Baeza Bickel, University of Michigan

For many young children who are obese, the future might not be as grim as previously thought, a University of Michigan study suggests.

According to U-M researchers, one-third of U.S. with in kindergarten achieve a lower weight status at least once through childhood, and 22 percent of these kids experience persistent remission of obesity—achieving and maintaining a lower weight status—by 8th grade.

"Hope is not lost. A meaningful number of with obesity are able to experience remission overtime," said senior researcher Katherine Bauer, assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the U-M School of Public Health.

Bauer said she wanted to understand the remission of childhood obesity after reading a 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed the majority of children with obesity by kindergarten continued to experience obesity throughout childhood.

Understanding how some kids achieved a nonobese weight status over time may shed light on how we can help all children with obesity, she said.

Bauer and colleagues Danny Luan, a recent U-M graduate, and Briana Mezuk, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, used the same dataset as the 2014 NEJM study but looked at it differently.

Using this nationally representative sample of more than 21,000 kindergartners, the U-M researchers did the opposite of what nearly all other studies tracking children's growth have done. Instead of starting with all children and seeing who develops obesity, they started with the kids who had obesity in kindergarten and looked at what happened to them over time.

There were some distinct patterns among the children who experienced obesity remission, Bauer said. At first glance, girls and children from higher socioeconomic status families appeared more likely to be able to overcome early .

But after accounting for the fact that these children, while still experiencing obesity, had lower BMIs in kindergarten than their peers, these differences disappeared.

One thing that is clear was that kids who experienced remission gained much less weight over time than the children who remained obese, often gaining half or one-third as many pounds than their peers every two years, the study showed.

"We need to help limit children's weight gain. Obesity is not something kids just grow out of by spurting up in height," Bauer said. "These findings suggest that hope is not lost.

"Some children are able to experience remission even if they don't participate in clinic-based weight management programs, which may be hard for some families to access. By continuing to understand children who experience obesity remission, we can identify creative ways to give children and families the support they need."

Bauer said she hopes the findings provide hope for children and parents, and help mobilize communities to help all children become healthier.

The study is published in Pediatric Obesity.

Explore further: Odds for weight loss are stacked against children who are obese early on 

Related Stories

Odds for weight loss are stacked against children who are obese early on 

September 20, 2017
The pudge on toddlers that some dismiss as "baby fat" is not a passing phase for some children.

Heavier birthweight linked to increased risk of obesity in early school-aged children

July 7, 2017
In a recent study, babies who were large at birth had an increased likelihood of being obese when they were in kindergarten to second grade (age 5 to 8 years). At each grade level and for both preterm and term children, children ...

Childhood obesity and overweight rates rise during summer break, not during school year

November 2, 2016
Increases in overweight and obesity rates among young children occur during summer vacations, not during the school year, according to new research from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.

Childhood obesity linked to math performance, researcher says

June 14, 2012
In a longitudinal study of 6,250 children from across the US, researchers found that, when compared with children who were never obese, boys and girls whose obesity persisted from the start of kindergarten through fifth grade ...

More than half of US children will have obesity as adults if current trends continue

November 29, 2017
If current trends in child obesity continue, more than 57% of today's children in the U.S. will have obesity at age 35, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Fathers' involvement may help prevent childhood obesity

June 21, 2017
Fathers are becoming more involved with raising children, but limited research has examined their association with childhood obesity. In a recent study, fathers' increased involvement with child caregiving was linked with ...

Recommended for you

The inequalities of prenatal stress

August 14, 2018
Exposure to an acute stress in utero can have long-term consequences extending into childhood – but only among children in poor households, according to a new Stanford study that looked at the long-term impact of acute, ...

Promoting HPV vaccine doesn't prompt risky sex by teens: study

August 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Controversial state laws that promote vaccinating kids against the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not increase the likelihood that teens will engage in risky sexual behavior, a new study contends.

Grip strength of children gives clues about their future health

August 13, 2018
While other studies have shown that muscle weakness as measured by grip strength is a predictor of unhealthy outcomes—including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, disability and even early mortality—this is the first ...

Prenatal vitamin D pills won't boost babies' growth: study

August 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—For pregnant women who are vitamin D-deficient, vitamin supplements won't improve the growth of their fetus or infant, Canadian researchers report.

Giving kids plates with segments and pictures caused them to eat more vegetables

August 8, 2018
A pair of researchers at the University of Colorado has found that preschool kids ate more vegetables when presented with segmented plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables on them. In their paper published in JAMA Pediatrics, ...

Study finds behavioral changes insufficient at preventing early childhood obesity

August 7, 2018
Young children and their families in poor communities were able to make some achievable and sustainable behavioral changes during the longest and largest obesity prevention intervention, but, in the end, the results were ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.