You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Obesity takes hold early in life, study finds

NEW YORK — For many obese adults, the die was cast by the time they were 5 years old. A study of some 7,000 children has found that a third of children who were overweight in kindergarten were obese by eighth grade. And almost every child who was very obese remained that way.

“The main message is that obesity is established very early in life, and that it basically tracks through adolescence to adulthood,” said Ruth Loos, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who was not involved in the study.

Continue reading below

The results, surprising to many specialists, arose from a study that tracked children’s body weights for years, from kindergarten through eighth grade. Experts say they may reshape approaches to combating a US obesity epidemic.

The findings, to be published in The New England Journal of Medicine, do not explain why the effect occurs.

Researchers say it may be a combination of genetic predisposition to being heavy and environments that encourage overeating in those that are prone to it.

But the results do provide a possible explanation for why efforts to help children lose weight have often had disappointing results.

The steps may have aimed too broadly at all school- children, rather than starting before children enrolled in kindergarten and concentrating on those who were already fat at very young ages.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.