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Overweight/obesity at preschool age linked to greater tallness

13 Apr 2020

Preschool children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be taller than their normal weight counterparts, suggests a study.

“Although a greater height is assumed to be desirable, accelerated growth in childhood may in itself be a risk factor for obesity later in life,” the researchers said.

When adjusting for confounders, a direct association existed between greater adiposity at preschool age and higher attained height at follow-up at school age. A baseline difference of one body mass index unit correlated with a greater attained height of 0.8 cm (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.5–1.2).

In addition, a difference of 1 mm in the sum of four skinfolds measured at baseline correlated with a higher attained height of 0.1 cm (95 percent CI, 0.03–0.2) at follow-up.

Overweight or obese children at baseline achieved a significantly greater height of 2.9 cm (95 percent CI, 1.6–4.1) at follow-up after full adjustment than normal weight counterparts.

A total of 1,100 obesity-prone preschool children (mean age, 4.0 years at baseline) from the greater Copenhagen area were included in the Health Start primary intervention study, which examined the association of obesity and fat distribution indicators with attained height at school entry.

Trained health professional measured anthropometry at baseline (preschool age), while school nurses obtained follow-up height at school entry. Generalized linear models with adjustments for potential confounders were used to examine the prospective associations between body fat measures and later attained height in children.

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