Pathways into and out of overweight and obesity from infancy to mid-childhood

C. M. Wright (Lead / Corresponding author), L. Marryat, J. McColl, U. Harjunmaa, T. J. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-627
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number10
Early online date11 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Infancy
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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