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PAS: Half of Inner-City Preschoolers Overweight

Window of opportunity for intervention may be between ages 2 and 3

THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight and obesity affect up to half of inner-city preschoolers, and the incidence increases most dramatically between ages 2 and 3, according to research presented recently at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.

Melissa Glassman, M.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues conducted a chart review of 1,713 inner-city children aged 1 to 5 years, 78 percent of whom were Hispanic, 17 percent of whom were black and 85 percent of whom were Medicaid recipients.

The researchers found that 50.6 percent of the children were overweight or obese by age 5. Between ages 1 and 5, they found that the rate of overweight increased from 3.7 percent to 20.8 percent and that the rate of obesity increased from 7.5 percent to 29.8 percent. They also found that boys were somewhat more likely to be obese than girls (adjusted odds ratio, 1.3). Between ages 1 to 2 and 3 to 5, they found that rates of overweight and obesity increased dramatically, (from 7.5 percent to 18.4 percent and from 13.7 percent to 30 percent, respectively).

"These findings indicate that pediatric interventions aimed at this critical age may have the greatest impact at preventing childhood obesity," Glassman said in a statement. "Addressing weight issues before the age of 3 may be vital to reducing the overall prevalence of obesity among inner-city adolescents and adults."

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