10 December 2013

Fighting the childhood obesity crisis

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Scientists are studying the genetic, social and dietary factors influencing child obesity.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Now, an extensive and long-term research project aims at identifying the causes of this dramatic increase. In a study including 16.000 children from across Europe and spanning over several years, scientists are now trying to determine possible genetic and social factors influencing obesity in children. The study focuses on uncovering the reasons why some children eat unhealthy foods. It also investigates the underlying causes leading children to exercise too little.

In another independent study, nutritionists have shown that the diet of the mother during pregnancy and that of young infants could be the cause of obesity in children as they grow older. “It has long been known that fewer breastfed children are overweight and we believe that this is because breastfed infants gain weight more slowly during the first two years of life, compared to those who have not been breastfed,” says Berthold Koletzko, professor of paediatrics and an expert in metabolism and diet at the Haunersches Children's Hospital in Munich, Germany.

With one in five children considered overweight and 8% obese, these studies are expected to give new insights into the nutritional and health habits of our children.

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