Predicting Your Baby’s Probability of Being Obese
More and more innovations have been constantly developed especially when it comes to human health. Just recently, researchers from Imperial College London surveyed more than 4,000 Finnish kids born in 1986 and consolidated the data gathered with previous studies of 1,500 Italian childing and 1,000 US children.
The results of their studies which were published in PLos One, found out that by looking at few variables such as the child’s birth weight and whether the mother smoked, they could easily predict a child’s probability of being obese using a formula.
The formula considers numerous factors to approximate the risk of obesity in children.
It was previously thought that genes played a bigger role to later weight problems. However, scientists found out that only one in 10 cases of obesity is the result of a rare gene mutation that affects appetite.
Professor Philippe Froguel from Imperial College London, who led the study, said that prevention was the best course of action to prevent childhood obesity. Once obese, a child can find it difficult to lose weight.
Froguel told about the equation: “The equation is based on data everyone can obtain from a newborn, and we found it can predict around 80% of obese children.Unfortunately, public prevention campaigns have been rather ineffective at preventing obesity in school-age children. Teaching parents about the dangers of overfeeding and bad nutritional habits at a young age would be much more effective. The message is simple. All at-risk children should be identified, monitored and given good advice, but this costs money.”
Another childhood specialist from Leeds Metropolitan University supported Froguel’s ewuation. Professor Paul Gately, said a tool like this would help the NHS target individuals at risk rather than the “scattergun one-size-fits-all approach, which we know does not work”.
“Rather than spending money on a huge number of people, we can be more specific and spend appropriately. We may not save money in the short-term but it will be spent more wisely and could reduce [obesity-related] NHS bills in the future. We’ve done a great job of outlining that obesity is a serious issue but we have made the general public paranoid that everyone is at risk. Tools like this will help change that attitude. Once we use the tool, we need intervention programmes for children at a greater risk.”