Overweight mothers and inactive childhoods lead to obesity in later life

Less than 3 per cent of 11 year olds are taking enough exercise, suggests a study of more than 5,500 children.

Another study published this week also revealed that obesity can be predicted from as young as three years old.

Both were published online first by the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

n the first study, researchers monitored the physical activity levels of 11 year olds in the south west of England over seven consecutive days between January 2003 and January 2005.

It is recommended that children spend at least an hour a day doing some form of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The data showed that the children were almost twice as physically active as adults but they were still not active enough.

Just over 5 per cent of the boys and 0.4 per cent of the girls achieved current recommended daily levels of physical activity, equating to 2.5 per cent across both sexes.

In the second paper, researchers studied 571 New Zealand children of European heritage, who were regularly monitored from birth to the age of seven years.

Children who had acquired a high percentage of body fat by the age of 3 were significantly more likely to be obese at the age of 7 than those with low percentage body fat.

But having a mother who was overweight or obese, being a girl, and spending a lot of time watching television were all independently associated with the chances of becoming obese.

Children with overweight or obese mothers had around 4 per cent more body fat than those whose mothers were of normal weight.

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