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Tracking of obesity and body fatness through mid-childhood

Wright, C.M. and Emmett, P.M. and Ness, AR and Reilly, John J and Sherriff, A. (2010) Tracking of obesity and body fatness through mid-childhood. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 95 (8). pp. 612-617. ISSN 0003-9888

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To explore how fat, lean and body mass index (BMI) track in childhood and how this relates to parental obesity. Design and Setting Prospective population-based cohort study: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, UK. Height, weight and leg-to-leg bioelectrical impedance (BIA) were collected at ages 7 and 11 years, as well as pre-pregnancy parental heights and weights. For BMI International Obesity Task Force thresholds of obesity and overweight were used. Impedance data were expressed as separate lean and fat z scores, internally standardised for gender, height and age and a child was defined as over-fat if fat z score was >85th and very over-fat if >95th internal centile. Data were available for 7723 and 7252 children at ages 7 and 11 years, respectively (6066 at both time points). Of those obese at age 7, 75% were still obese at age 11, while of those who had been overweight 16% had become obese and 20% now had normal BMI. Both fat and lean z scores showed moderate levels of tracking (correlation coefficients 0.70 and 0.73, respectively). Children with one or two obese parents had higher fat z scores at age 7 and showed greater increases in fat thereafter. They were more likely to be very over-fat at age 7 and, of these, 69% remained so at age 11 compared to only 45% with non-obese parents (p <0.001). Children of obese parents already have high fat levels at age 7 and are more likely to remain very over-fat.