News article

Influence of children’s height and weight measurements on risk of developing obesity

Posted:  Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Impact of child’s height and weight early in life on the risk for obesity later in life

The incidence of childhood obesity is on the rise in Asia. The period from the start of pregnancy till 2 years of age is critical for the prevention of non-communicable disease (NCD) in future. During this period, factors such as weight gain during and after pregnancy and the infant’s birth weight influence the risk of obesity and other NCDs. A study published in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice reviewed the impact of height and weight measurements in early life and their influences on metabolic health risk in later life among Asian children.

Medline (PubMed), Scopus, Science Direct, and Google Scholar were reviewed and studies from Asia were selected and compared with studies conducted in Europe, Australia, and the United States (Caucasian). One hundred and two articles were selected for the review. These articles were reviewed, and the factors influencing metabolic disorders, such as birth weight, gestational weight gain, nutritional status, gender, and feeding practices, were studied.

The growth of the foetus was influenced by differences in birth weight among various ethnicities in Asia. Malaysian infants of Indian origin had low birth weight, low body length, and low head circumference compared to infants of Malaysian or Chinese origin.

In developing countries such as India, where malnourishment is common before pregnancy, the intake of food low in protein and energy during pregnancy was not associated with low birth weight of the infant. However, adequate fat intake during early pregnancy was associated with a birth weight more than 2500 g. This indicated that in a malnourished society, adequate foetal growth may be restricted by micronutrient deficiencies. In Asia, weight gain before and during pregnancy and food intake during pregnancy have an impact on infant’s birth weight. After birth, feeding practices and gender influence the growth and body composition of the child.

Foetal growth, birth weight, and length were different among infants in various Asian countries, and between Asian and other countries. These differences are initiated from the period of growth in the womb. Hence, maternal health and weight gain during pregnancy could have adverse effects on the infant’s growth and body composition. Further research on the influence of nutrition on different phases of pregnancy, infant growth, and body composition is needed.

News source - Muhardi L, Abrahamse-Berkeveld M, Acton D, van der Beek EM. Differences in the anthropometry of Asian children and its role in metabolic health in later life: A narrative review. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. 2016 Jul 5.