It’s possible to outgrow obesity

August 6, 2013

A new study suggests that it is possible for children, particularly boys and those who are not severely obese, to use growth spurts to outgrow obesity without losing weight.

 

A new study suggests that it is possible for children, particularly boys and those who are not severely obese, to use growth spurts to outgrow obesity without losing weight.

Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda developed a mathematical model of childhood energy balance. The model accounts for healthy growth and development of obesity and provides predictions about weight management interventions. The developers say the model makes it possible to know the exact magnitude of intervention necessary to affect body weight change in children.

The investigators found that growth spurts can serve as therapeutic windows during which children, usually boys aged between 11 and 16 years, can outgrow obesity without actually losing weight, just by becoming leaner and taller. They explain that outgrowing obesity is more difficult for girls because girls do not lose as much body fat during growth periods.

The researchers also found that the development of childhood obesity requires a substantially greater intake of excess energy than that required for adult obesity, and that excess energy intake in overweight and obese children calculated by the model greatly exceeded the typical energy balance calculated on the basis of growth charts.

Perhaps most interesting is that the investigators compared the body weight of children from 2 time periods-2003 to 2006 versus 1976 to 1980-and found that body weight across all ages increased by an average 6.1 kg in boys and 5.7 kg in girls, which was associated with an average 210 kcal per day increased energy intake in boys and 190 kcal per day increased energy intake in girls. Therefore, reducing energy intake by a mean of about 200 kcal per day could return the mean body weight of our children back to levels prior to the obesity epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in this country-triple the rate from just 1 generation ago.

 

 

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