As childhood obesity continues its 30-year advance from occasional curiosity to cultural epidemic, health care providers are struggling to find out why — and the reasons are many. Increasingly sedentary environments for both adults and children, as well as cheap and ubiquitous processed foods no doubt play a role, but researchers are finding more evidence that the first clues for childhood obesity may begin as far back as early infancy. A new study led by researchers in the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, as well as Children’s Hospital Boston, has found that rapid weight gain during the first six months of life may place a child at risk for obesity by age 3. “There is increasing evidence that rapid changes in weight during infancy increase children’s risk of later obesity,” says lead author Elsie Taveras, assistant professor in the HMS Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention and co-director of the One Step Ahead clinic, a pediatric overweight prevention program at Children’s Hospital Boston. “The mounting evidence suggests that infancy may be a critical period during which to prevent childhood obesity and its related consequences.”These findings appear in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.Most prior studies examining the relationship between infant weight gain and later childhood obesity focus primarily on body weight. However, measures of length, in addition to weight, together reflect body fatness better than weight alone. In this study, Taveras and colleagues in the HMS Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention examined how weight and body length, or weight-for-length, in infancy can influence later obesity. The team mined self-reported data from Project Viva, an ongoing study led by Matthew Gillman, senior author on the paper, of more than 2,000 pregnant women and their children. They isolated a subgroup of 559 mother/child pairs and studied patterns of weight gain in infancy and their subsequent three-year effect. In addition to looking at static weight and length measures, the team also looked at weight gain as a dynamic process, measuring not only how much but how quickly an infant gained weight. The connection between rapid infant weight gain and later obesity was striking, even after adjusting for factors such as premature babies or those underweight at birth. Take for example two infants with the same birth weight who, after six months, weigh 16.9 pounds and 18.4 pounds, 1.5 pounds difference. According to study estimates, the heavier of these two infants would have a 40 percent higher risk of obesity at age 3 (after adjusting for potential confounders).While this study confirms earlier ones examining the relation between infancy and childhood weight, there were certain limitations. For example, the researchers weren’t able to examine social and behavioral interactions around feeding between parents and infants. And while families in the study represented various ethnic backgrounds, they were fairly homogeneous socioeconomically, so there may be some question regarding how widely the results can be generalized. Still, when seen in the context of other research, the relationship between infant and childhood weight is compelling. “There is still a lot more we need to understand about the mechanisms of how this all fits together,” says Taveras. “But this data clearly shows how the earliest interventions might actually have very long-term benefits.” Taveras also points out that these findings provide initial evidence that our cultural affirmation of infants who top the growth charts, and even our notions of appropriate weight gain during pregnancy, may prove to be excessive.“At first it may seem implausible that weight gain over just a few months early in infancy could have long-term health consequences, but it makes sense because so much of human development takes place during that period – and even before birth,” says Gillman, director of the department’s Obesity Prevention Program. “Now we need to find out how to modify weight gain in infancy in ways that balance the needs of the brain and the body.”This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreMany people recognize Dan Price as the CEO who slashed his own salary back in 2015 so he could raise the minimum wage at his company to $70,000 a year.The Seattle-based businessman is now making headlines all over again since he opened a new office in Idaho and announced that all of its staffers would be given the same salary.Price is the founder and CEO of Gravity Payments: a credit card processing company which he launched out of his college dorm room when he was only 19 years old. According to CNN, their new office in Boise used to belong to an independent company called ChargeItPro before it was acquired by Gravity in 2016. RELATED: Employees Surprise CEO Who Gave $70,000 Minimum Wage With A $70K TeslaAfter Price and his employees held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the office earlier this week, he announced that he would be raising their salaries to the $70,000 minimum before 2024.“This morning, we cut the ribbon on the new [Gravity Payments] Boise office AND announced that all of our employees here will start earning our $70k min salary,” wrote Price. “I’m so grateful to work with this amazing team and to be able to compensate them for the value they bring to our community.”This morning we cut the ribbon on the new @GravityPymts Boise office AND announced that all of our employees here will start earning our $70k min salary.I’m so grateful to work with this amazing team and to be able to compensate them for the value they bring to our community. pic.twitter.com/stwwJgYCqQ— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) September 23, 2019 Price first got the idea for the pay raise in 2015 after reading a research paper on happiness which showed how extra money makes a big difference in the lives of people earning less than $70,000 a year.He managed to make it through the 2008 recession without laying off any employees or raising prices, despite losing 20% of his business. Since most of those young workers stuck with him through the hard times, he saw the wage increases as a way of returning that loyalty—even if it meant slashing his own salary from $1 million to the same $70K per year.MORE: Company Founder Surprises Employees With $20 Million—‘I wanted to show some gratitude’After all 70 of his workers benefited from the pay raise, Gravity Payments became flooded with business. In the week following his announcement, Price says the company recorded the best week for acquiring new clients in the 11 years since he founded it.Half a year after that, he found that his employees were more productive than ever; old customers were sticking with him; and his customer retention rate had risen from 91% to 95%, which was 37 points better than the national average.Now, he hopes that the new Idaho office will help to reap the same benefits for everyone involved—especially his employees.(WATCH the 2015 interview below) – Feature photo by Dan PriceBe Sure And Share The Good News With Your Friends On Social Media…AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore