Weight Gain in Children

In the longitudinal study, researchers were determined to track and identify possible causes of adolescent weight gain in hopes of finding an area of effective intervention. The study included 652 children aged 4, 6 and 8 with follow-ups every two years as well as regular community health checkpoints. The body mass index and body fat phenotypes were measured for each of the children at the beginning and throughout the study. Of the beginning 652, nine percent were overweight and just .2 percent were obese. Additionally, genetic risks for obesity were measured using a genetic risk score for 32 single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The results of the study indicated that children with a higher genetic risk for obesity gained weight and fat mass much faster than those without. The study was looking more specifically at the appetite traits of individuals with and without the genetic risk for obesity in order to eventually use this as a means of treating and preventing obesity, especially in the younger populations. The study revealed that those children with a higher genetic risk for obesity had higher levels of obesogenic appetite traits meaning that their decision making and portion control were poor in comparison to a healthy individual.

Identifying this specific problem with weight gain in the adolescent population is significant in making a future change in the developments and obesity patterns of children. Knowing what area to target for intervention can help lead to a more successful treatment plan. The results of the study ultimately lead to the idea that education is a large part of the treatment plan. Teaching families including parents and the children at risk, how to eat healthy can avoid the significant weight gain associated with the genetic risk that may be unavoidable. As my future role in the field of medicine, I can make an impact with direct patient care and counseling to aide in the education process of treating and changing the appetite traits of children with a genetic risk for obesity.

JAMA Pediatrics. 2016;170(2)

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