Childhood Obesity and Cancer

Childhood Obesity and Cancer

The heavier kids are during the toddler, preschool, and school years, the greatest the chance they have of developing cancer as young adults, according to a study published in the November 1, 2004 International Journal of Cancer. Researchers in the Boyd Orr Study of Diet and Health in Pre-War Britain measured the heights and weights of more than 2,000 children between the ages of 2 and 14 during 1937-1939. These children were then followed for 50 years, into their 50.s and 60.s – the longest follow-up we have for study like this.

A total of 380 of the people developed cancer (188 men and 192 women). Those who developed cancer were more likely to have been obese as children. Body mass index (BMI), calculated from the heights and weights, is the best measure of obesity. For every standard deviation increase in BMI in the children, there was a 9 percent increase in cancer risk, after accounting for other factors. For smoking related cancers, the risk increased 30 percent for every standard deviation increase in BMI.

Right now, we are raising the most obese, the most sedentary generation in history. Unless cancer risks change dramatically, we are heading for an unprecedented cancer epidemic in the years ahead. Taking action to prevent or reverse obesity in your children is one of the greatest gifts you can give as a parent.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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