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Here’s the Best Way to Predict if Your Baby Will Become Obese

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The importance of a baby's BMI

A new study shows that this one test is best for predicting if your baby will become obese by the time he or she reaches age two.


According to a news release from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the sooner a parent or physician can identify a predisposition for obesity in a child, the sooner measures can be taken to prevent that obesity from happening.

"An important factor in preventing obesity in adults is identifying at-risk individuals as early as possible, when interventions may have the greatest effect--even during infancy," says Sani Roy, M.D., a pediatric endocrinology fellow at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). "However, there is no currently accepted definition for excess body weight below age two."

But that may change according to a new study co-authored by Dr. Roy that found that babies with a high body mass index (BMI) at age two months are at risk for obesity at age two years. The study was just published in Pediatrics, and makes the argument that the BMI better predicts early childhood obesity than the previously-preferred weight-for-length (WFL) measurement standard used with very young children.

The study was designed to assess WFL- versus BMI-based estimates of adiposity in healthy infants in determining risk for early obesity by analyzing the medical records of nearly 74,000 full-term infants seen during their first two years at well-child visits in the CHOP pediatric network from 2006 to 2011.

What the researchers found was that:

• 31 percent of two-month-old babies with BMI at or above the 85th percentile were obese at age two, compared to 23 percent of two-month-olds at the 85th percentile by WFL.

• At the 97.7th percentile for BMI at age two months, 47 percent of babies were obese at age two years compared to 29 percent by WFL.

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The researchers concluded that a high BMI in early infancy is more strongly associated with early childhood obesity in comparison to the high WFL standard.

"To our knowledge, this was the first study to compare BMI to WFL in predicting future obesity risk in a large, diverse cohort of full-term infants," said senior author Babette S. Zemel, Ph.D., the director of CHOP's Nutrition and Growth Laboratory. "We found that while BMI and WFL agreed after age six months, high BMI at age two months was a better predictor of obesity at two years of age than WFL. We recommend that clinicians consider measuring BMI in early infancy."

How to Keep Your Baby from Getting Obese

For more about obesity prevention in infants, here is an informative article on how to save your baby from a life of obesity by following these tips as well as how doing these 4 Bad Feeding Habits can make your bottle-fed baby obese.


"Infant BMI or Weight-for-Length and Obesity Risk in Early ChildhoodPediatrics, published online April 22, 2016; Sani M. Roy, et al.

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia press release―“Infant BMI is good predictor of obesity at age 2

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