Obesity linked to birth weight

Babies who are born heavy and grow quickly have a 150% chance of being overweight or obese by the time they are 7 years old, a survey of more than 8,000 children in Hong Kong has shown.

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Obesity has long been associated with a person’s lifestyle and dietary habits, but the study shows it might just as well be dependent on “epigenetics” – factors such as genes and the eating habits and lifestyle of parents and grandparents, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said.

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More than 8,300 children born in April and May 1997 in Hong Kong are involved in the long-term study and researchers plan to monitor them for the rest of their lives.

The scientists tracked their development at birth, 3 months, 9 months, 36 months and 7 years.

About 800 children in the study are now overweight or obese.

Excess weight and obesity pose major risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and some forms of cancer.

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The researchers plan to interview parents and grandparents of the group children to see if their body sizes are linked to dietary and lifestyle habits of the older generations.

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