January 30th, 2014
10:49 AM ET

Your kindergartner‎'s weight matters

The baby fat lingering around your 5-year-old's face (and tummy and thighs) may be an indicator of his or her weight for many years to come, a new study suggests. Children who enter kindergarten overweight are four times more likely than their normal weight peers to become obese by age 14, researchers say.

Though recent studies have shown signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, an estimated one out of every eight preschoolers in the United States is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are higher in African-American and Hispanic populations, at one in five and one in six, respectively.

The new study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests a big part of a child's obesity risk is already established by age 5. Interventions to combat childhood obesity may need to focus on those children who are overweight early in life, the study authors say.

Some background

Body mass index for children is calculated a bit differently than it is for adults. While kids' height and weight are still used, whether they are "normal," "overweight" or "obese" is determined by a percentile. Most parents are familiar with percentiles, as they are commonly used to chart children's growth in the United States.

A healthy weight child falls between the 5th and the 85th percentiles. An overweight child is the 85th to 95th percentile; an obese child is above the 95th percentile.

The study

Researchers analyzed data from more than 7,700 children who started kindergarten in 1998. The children's height and weight were measured seven times between that year and the time they turned 14 in 2007.

At the start of the study, 12.4% of the children were obese, and another 14.9% were overweight.

The researchers then determined the overall obesity incidence each year, and broke down the obesity rates by sex, socioeconomic status, race or ethnic group, birth weight and kindergarten weight.

The results

By the eighth grade, 20.8% of the children in the study were obese and 17% were overweight.

Half of the children who were obese at 14 had been a part of the 14.9% who were overweight as kindergarteners; 75% had been in the 70th BMI percentile or above.

Not your mama's gym class: PE teachers step up to fight obesity

The greatest increase in obesity rates was seen between first and third grades when the incidence jumped from 13% to 18.6%.

Children in the wealthiest families were the least likely to be overweight. Children who were born heavier - i.e., more than 8.8 pounds - had a higher risk of being obese at every age.


Doctors and teachers can't fight childhood obesity without help, Steven Gortmaker and Elsie Taveras wrote in an accompanying editorial in the journal. Improving a child's diet and increasing physical activity levels at home can reduce early weight gain and the risk of obesity.

How do you keep your children active? Share your tips with other parents and experts during a live Twitter chat at 1 p.m. ET Friday, hosted by @CNNHealth and celebrity trainer David Kirsch. Use the hashtag #FitFamilies to join in.

soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. bass pro shop near me


    May 7, 2021 at 04:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. fabrication shop near me


    May 7, 2021 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Red Wine Near Me


    May 7, 2021 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Forklift Service Shop Orange County


    May 7, 2021 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. aldi near me


    May 7, 2021 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. van conversions orange county ca


    May 7, 2021 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Content Marketing Company

    Very good blog post. I certainly appreciate this website. Thanks!


    May 7, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rv repair shops

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this matter here on your website.


    May 7, 2021 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Seo Marketing Agencies


    May 8, 2021 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Social Media Marketing Ideas


    May 8, 2021 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Seo Marketing Companies

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing this info.


    May 8, 2021 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. nearest rv repair shop


    May 8, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Internet Marketing Event


    May 8, 2021 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Google Marketing Programs


    May 8, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Digital Marketing Masters


    May 8, 2021 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Beds Los Angeles


    May 8, 2021 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Internet Marketing Program

    Right here is the right site for everyone who really wants to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject which has been written about for a long time. Excellent stuff, just excellent!


    May 9, 2021 at 02:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Seo Marketing Firm


    May 9, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Digital Marketing Company Near Me

    This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 9, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Digital Marketing Specialists


    May 9, 2021 at 05:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Content Marketing Reviews


    May 9, 2021 at 07:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Bay Doors Riverside

    I like it when individuals come together and share thoughts. Great blog, keep it up!


    May 9, 2021 at 07:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Content Marketing Orange County


    May 9, 2021 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Google Marketing Company

    Howdy, I think your blog may be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, great website!


    May 9, 2021 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Internet Marketing Company

    Howdy! I simply want to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information you have got right here on this post. I will be returning to your website for more soon.


    May 9, 2021 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Local Marketing Jobs


    May 9, 2021 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Technician Riverside

    I like it when individuals come together and share ideas. Great site, keep it up!


    May 9, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Social Media Marketing Experts


    May 9, 2021 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Camera Near Me


    May 9, 2021 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Internet Marketing Jobs Near Me


    May 9, 2021 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Social Media Marketing Service

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 9, 2021 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Leak California


    May 9, 2021 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Mariano Cabbell


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.