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Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Nearly one third of American babies are too fat

Nearly one third of American babies are too chubby: study

Rosemary Black
Originally Published:Monday, January 3rd 2011, 1:43 PM
Updated: Monday, January 3rd 2011, 4:11 PM

Babies often grow too chubby because of overfeeding, experts say.

GettyBabies often grow too chubby because of overfeeding, experts say.

Chubby grownups aren’t the only ones tipping the scales at an unhealthy weight.

Nearly a third of American babies are too fat, according to a new study reported on Some 32% of 9 month olds in the study were deemed overweight, and by the age of 2, the number had grown to 34%.

“It definitely raised eyebrows when we saw how early it was showing up,” Wayne State University adjunct professor Brian Moss, author of new research in the American Journal of Health Promotion, told

In babies under age 2, overweight is typically defined as a weight in the 85th to 95th percentile, explains Sessions. Babies who are above the 95th percentile are considered obese.
While a 9-month-old chub may not face imminent health problems, if he carries the extra weight into adulthood, he faces a higher risk of diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, Sessions explains.

Overweight children also tend to snore more than kids of average weight, she notes, and may have sleep apnea, which can contribute to poor performance in school. "They may also face teasing from their peers," Sessions says.

Parents of chubby babies should look at their own diets, advises Dr. Jessica Sessions, director of pediatrics at the William F. Ryan Community Health Center. “We tend to give our kids what’s on our table,” she says. If the parents have a weight problem, that doesn’t bode well for the baby, she notes. “When both parents or even one is obese, that chubby baby probably is not going to thin out,” she says.

Interestingly, a high birth weight did not predict with accuracy whether a baby would grow up to be overweight or obese, according to the study, which focused on children born in 2001. Some very large babies thin out, but tiny newborns can become overweight, in some cases because parents offer them too much or the wrong kind of food.

Fruit juice is often implicated in the development of overweight babies, experts say. “If your baby is chubby and is drinking 18 ounces of fruit juice a day, it’s time to stay away from the fruit juice,” says Dr. Stephen Turner, chairman of pediatrics at Long Island College Hospital.

White flour and French fries are also to blame for the high rate of obesity in kids, says pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, author of “Feeding Baby Green.”

“The third most common vegetable that a 9 month old gets is French fries,” Greene says. “By 18 months old, French fries are the number one vegetable for kids. “

And, he adds, “Babies get more calories from white flour than from any other solid food.” White flour, Greene says, is linked both to obesity and diabetes. “The body handles it like a spoonful of sugar,” he explains. “Switching to whole grains doesn’t cost any more, and if you do so when your baby is young, it’s a really easy switch.”

Parents should keep their baby’s weight in perspective, too. “”Don’t take their weight out of context with their length,” advises Dr. Henry Bernstein, chief of general pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. If your baby’s weight is in the 95th percentile and the height is in the 25th percentile, “Look at the quality of what he is eating,” Bernstein advises.

And keep in mind that many kids will slim down naturally. “Between 9 months and 2 years, a lot of babies thin out as they start to walk and are less interested in eating,” Turner says. “If you’re feeding your child healthy foods, I wouldn’t worry. But they should not be eating high fat fast food.”

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