The question now is how to respond to these findings, Gregg said. However, he said it's not clear how to identify and find programs that work for children in preventing disease or death in adulthood.
"We need to find ways to prevent obesity in children," he said. "The challenge is getting the right interventions."
Gregg thinks the answer lies in a complex combination of programs for families and schools, nutrition and physical activity that will change lifestyles.
"This is ultimately going to require a full-court press of multiple approaches to make a difference," he said. "This is not something that is going to get fixed in a year or two. We have to look at this over the long haul. It's going to take slow steady efforts. That's where we are with obesity and diabetes right now."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on childhood obesity.
SOURCES: Paul W. Franks, Ph.D., associate professor, experimental medicine, and head, Genetic Epidemiology and Clinical Research Group, Umea University Hospital, Umea, Sweden; William C. Knowler, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., chief, diabetes epidemiology and clinical research section, U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Phoenix; Edward W. Gregg, Ph.D., chief, epidemiology and statistics branch, division of diabetes translation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Feb. 11, 2010, New England Journal of Medicine
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