Objectives: To investigate whether high weight in infancy predicts obesity in childhood.
Method: Data from two UK cohorts (Newcastle Growth and Development N = 795, Gateshead Millennium N = 393) and one Finnish (Tampere N = 1262) were combined. Z scores of weight at 3 and 12 months and body mass index (BMI) at 5 and 8 years were categorized as raised/overweight (1 to <2 SD) or high/obese (≥2 SD).
Results: The majority of infants with raised or high weight at birth tended to revert to normal by 3 months and to track in the same category from 3 to 12 months. Although infants with high weight were five times more likely to have BMI ≥ 2 SD at 8 years (p < 0.001), only 22% went on to have BMI ≥ 2 SD, while 64% of infants with raised weight had normal BMI at 8 years. Of children with BMI ≥ 2 SD aged 8 years, only 22% had raised weight in infancy and half had BMI ≥ 2 SD for the first time at that age.
Conclusions: Infants with raised weight in infancy tend to remain so, but most children who go on to have BMI ≥ 2 SD were not unusually heavy infants and the majority of infants with high weight reverted to overweight or normal weight in childhood.