How quickly does being overweight affect health? Overweight babies and toddlers under age 2 already show signs of health problems according to a study in the August 2008, Pediatrics. Those over the 95th percentile in weight (for their height) were more likely to get hospitalized before their second birthday. And more likely to be hospitalized a second time. Even those over the 85th percentile (the definition of overweight) were more likely to have gross motor delays and more likely to snore.
There was also a trend toward more of other types of breathing problems, such as asthma. The connections seemed pretty clear – though not necessarily clear whether the increased weight caused the health problems, or vice versa. Either way, it makes sense to pay attention to the connection. And it’s very possible that the health problems from obesity aren’t something in the far off future, but begin very early. One striking side note in the results of the study: almost 70 percent of the mothers of overweight children didn’t think their babies were overweight. Obesity has become so common in kids that overweight looks normal to most parents, and normal looks skinny.
Shibil R, Rubin L, Akons H, and Shaoul R. Morbidity of Overweight (>85th Percentile) in the First 2 Years of Life. Pediatrics. August 2008; 122:267-272.