CHICAGO -- Kids who were overweight in kindergarten were more than five times as likely to be obese by the time they entered eighth grade as classmates of normal weight, according to a new analysis of data from a large nationally representative longitudinal study.
The Early Child Longitudinal Study showed that 31.8% of kindergartners who were overweight were obese at age 14 versus 7.9% of kids who were normal weight in kindergarten, Solveig Cunningham, PhD, of Emory University reported at the American Diabetes Association meeting here.
"Overweight kindergarteners account for 45% of obesity incidence between kindergarten and eighth grade," she said. "After adjustment, they are at 5.3 times the risk of being obese at age 14 as normal-weight kindergarteners."
"Kids who were born large -- over 4,000 grams (8.8 lbs) -- are at really high risk of becoming obese if they are overweight at age 5," Cunningham added.
Specifically, those high birthweight babies who were overweight in kindergarten had a 41.2% chance of being obese in the eighth grade. In contrast, high birthweight babies who were normal weight in kindergarten had only an 8.1% chance of becoming obese by age 14.