The Family and Preschool Obesity

In the United States overweight has doubled in our youngest children ages 2 to 6 years (Generation Z) in just 4 decades. Almost 1/3 of children ages 2-19 years are overweight or obese as defined as above the 85th %ile CDC (1).

Most recently, some studies have looked at obesogenic factors affecting our youngest children. It is clear that overconsumption of food and inactivity are at the root of the problem. However, Christine Olson at Cornell University looked at mother’s weight status on predicting the weight of their children at 4 years of age. This study concluded that mothers who were obese in their first trimester of pregnancy had double the risk of having obese children ages 2-4 years and women gaining too much weight during pregnancy also negatively affected the weight of children at age 4 years (2).

Another study by Anderson et al.(3) concluded that preschool children exposed to
1. Regularly eating the evening meal as a family
2. Getting adequate night time sleep
3. Having limited screen time on week days (<2hrs/day)
had a 40% lower prevalence of obesity than those preschoolers exposed to none of these routines.

1. Van Horn, L., First Assess…Then address childhood obesity. Childhood Obesity. 2010 Aug ; 6:4, 165.
2. Olson, CL, Associations between mothers’ and their children’s weight at 4 years of age, Childhood Obesity. 2010 Aug: 6: 4, 201-7.
3. Anderson SE, Whitaker, RC, Household routine and obesity in US preschool-aged children, Pediatrics, 2010 Mar:125 (3): 420-8.