- Associated Press - Sunday, February 16, 2014

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that among children between ages 5 and 14, nearly 12 percent developed obesity - 10 percent of girls and nearly 14 percent of boys.

The study finds that much of a child’s “weight fate” is set by age 5, and that nearly half of kids who became obese by the eighth grade were overweight when they started kindergarten.

Nearly half of kids who started kindergarten overweight became obese teens. Overweight 5-year-olds were four times as likely as normal-weight children to become obese (32 percent versus 8 percent).

The study tracked a nationwide sample of more than 7,700 children through grade school.

Dr. David Colvard, of the Infants and Children’s Clinic in Florence, echoed the results of the study, saying children who are overweight have an increased risk of all the problems associated with overweight adults.

“Recent studies have shown increasing problems for adults who were overweight as children,” he said, in an email correspondence.

“We are seeing more children with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver problems. And these problems worsen with time.”

Lee Renfroe, an associate professor of health promotion at the University of North Alabama, said a child’s weight is largely determined by the environment they grow up in.

“You need to look at the genetic possibility, but you also have to examine the environment by the people who raised you,” she said.

“If they eat a poor diet, the child will also eat a poor diet. If they are inactive, the child is inactive. But it’s not a life sentence.”

Meredith Pate, a dietitian at Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, said a person is more likely to be overweight if the parents are overweight.

“I can remember as a kid, we were outside playing, riding around the neighborhood,” she said.

“Kids don’t do that now. People are eating out more, portion sizes are bigger.”

But responsibility, especially for younger children falls to the parents, Pate said.

“Plan better,” she said. “I’m guilty of it, too. My daughter had piano lessons. What did we do? We went through the drive-thru.

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