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Health Watch: Predicting Childhood Obesity

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Traci Glazner's 5-month-old daughter, Faye, has been long and lean since birth. "When Faye was born she was 19-and-a-half inches and weighed 6 pounds 3 ounces," Traci says.

Birth weight is one factor that could predict whether a baby becomes obese later in life. Researchers in England say there is a simple formula that can determine which newborns are most at risk. It also includes the body mass index of the parents, the number of people in the household, the mother's professional status and whether she smoked during pregnancy. 

Dr. Jonathan Fanarof is with Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. "That calculation would have an 80 percent of being right to it really does a good job. It is an important tool."

Childhood obesity rates are a big concern in the United States. More than a third of children and teens are overweight or obese.

Doctors say once a child gains weight, it's difficult for them to lose it, so prevention from the earliest age is key. "Maybe this calculator will get some families who might otherwise not take a healthy lifestyle seriously to take it more seriously," Dr. Fanarof says.

Traci already does something very important that can help prevent childhood obesity.  She breastfeeds her baby exclusively. "I nurse Faye 100%. She hasn't started any solid food yet, so all she's had is breast milk."

And like she does with her other children, she plans to give baby Faye well-balanced meals and keep her active as she gets older.

Written By Wendy Damonte
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