Study: Children overweight in kindergarten obese by 8th grade

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DENVER — Children who are overweight in kindergarten are likely to become obese in middle school, according to a study looking at questions of how early obesity begins and the roles of home and preschool environments in causing children to become overweight.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 7,000 children nationwide. It found that 1/3 of children who were overweight in kindergarten were obese by the 8th grade.

Almost every child who was very obese at age 5 remained that way at age 14, the study found.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 8.4 percent of children ages 2-4 years were obese, and 14.5 percent were overweight, according to 2012 data.

“To ensure the promise of health for future generations, we must give Colorado children every opportunity, from a very early age, for healthy food and active play,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, the department’s executive director and chief medical officer.

The CDPHE released this advice for parents:

● Healthy eating and staying active while you are pregnant matters for you and your baby’s health.
● Give yourself and your baby all the benefits of breastfeeding. Feed your baby only breast milk for the first six months.
● Trust your baby to know how much he or she needs to eat. Your baby will show you signals of hunger and fullness and will trust you to respond.
● Give your child nutritious food and active play for a healthy future. Offer your child daily opportunities for physical activity and a healthy diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk.
● Turn off the TV and play together as a family. Young children who have more than two hours of screen time a day are more likely to be overweight or obese.
● Rethink your drink – choose water! Extra calories from sugar-sweetened beverages may lead to weight gain in children and adolescents.
● Gaining the right amount of weight during pregnancy helps you have a healthy baby. Talk to your health care provider to find out how much weight gain is best for you and your baby.
● There’s no power like parent power! Eat well and move more to care for yourself and your family.