Overweight in Kindergarten

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Story Updated: Jan 31, 2014

By the time they begin kindergarten a hefty slice of America's pre-adolescent children are already overweight or obese, researchers warn. The finding comes from a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine that set out to track youngsters from the age of 5 up until they turned 14 monitoring their weight from kindergarten through 8th grade.

Beginning in 1998, more than 7,700 boys and girls joined the effort a sample that represented the nearly 4 million children enrolled in kindergarten classes that year. Each child's height and weight were measured 7 times over the years 1998 to 2007. The tally revealed that more than 12% of the 5-year olds were already obese when they entered kindergarten. Nearly 15 percent were overweight. By the time they reached 8th grade in 2007, nearly 21% of 14-year olds were obese and 17% overweight.

The researchers say that when it comes to long-term obesity risk, overweight kindergarteners are particularly vulnerable. Overweight five-year olds, they said, are four times more likely to become obese 8th-graders than their healthy-weight peers.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the health news that matters to you.

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