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Samoan obesity epidemic starts at birth
Date:2/5/2013

4 kilograms.
  • By 15 months of age 23.3 percent of boys and 16.7 percent of girls were obese (based on being heavier than the U.S. CDC's 95th percentile). A further 16.1 percent of boys and 14.0 percent of girls were overweight.
  • At 15 months, 38.6 percent of formula-fed boys were obese while only 23.4 percent of breast-fed boys were obese.

    Rapid gain

    Stephen McGarvey, research professor of epidemiology and the study's senior author, said the babies were perhaps less heavy at birth than one might expect given the prevalence of obesity among their mothers, but the subsequent weight gain in early infancy was the study's most important finding. Rapid weight gain in infancy is widely understood to be a risk factor for adult obesity.

    The median weight gain among the Samoan babies in the first four months of life was 978 grams a month, McGarvey said. That figure is almost 20 percent more than the 820 grams a month documented in a prior study of babies on the U.S. mainland.

    The Samoan babies' average weight gain curve, he said, resembled the trajectory epidemiologists see among undernourished babies who suffer intrauterine growth restriction, meaning they are nutritionally deprived in the womb but then compensate by gaining weight rapidly after birth. Samoan babies are not undernourished, McGarvey said, but they may also be somehow constrained in their growth as fetuses, perhaps because they are at an upper limit of growth before birth.

    "We wonder whether this response is not partially a response to the events in utero," said McGarvey. He and Hawley plan to pursue that question in future research.

    Hawley noted that while the seemingly protective effect of breastfeeding has been shown in other studies, the results bolster the case for the idea that it extends to non-European populations. The finding also suggests a specific tactic encouraging breastfeeding throughout more of infancy that pub
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  • Contact: David Orenstein
    david_orenstein@brown.edu
    401-863-1862
    Brown University
    Source:Eurekalert

    Page: 1 2 3

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