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The calculator, designed by researchers at Imperial College London, comprises of six questions that can help calculate the baby’s risk of being dangerously overweight by the age of 16.
The questions take into account kid’s birth weight, BMI of parents, mother’s professional qualifications, number of household members and mother’s smoking habits at the time of pregnancy.
Significance of each factor
While designing the obesity risk test the research team lead by Professor Philippe Froguel selected six obesity factors, which if taken together, provide an accurate prediction of impending obesity risk.
The calculator starts with seeking information about mother’s and father’s body mass index. The factor is of deemed to be of utmost importance because children of overweight adults are more likely to pack on kilos themselves as they learn basic habits from their parents.
Details of mother’s professional status and her smoking habits during pregnancy are also culled. A professionally qualified mother is believed to impart good habits to her kids. Likewise, while babies born to smoking mothers are lighter at birth, they tend pack weight easily later.
Number of people in the household also influences the obesity odds of kids. Previous studies have shown that children coming from single-parent families are more likely to be obese, perhaps because the parent has less time to spare in looking after the kid.
Finally, the baby’s weight at time of birth can provide crucial insights for obesity.
“Once a young child becomes obese, it's difficult for them to lose weight, so prevention is the best strategy and it has to begin as early as possible,” Professor Froguel said.
“Unfortunately, public prevention campaigns have been rather ineffective at preventing obesity in school-age children. Teaching parents about the dangers of over-feeding and bad nutritional habits at a young age would be much more effective.”
The calculations can be carried out at clinic or personal levels. Once the kids with high risk of obesity are identified care can betaken for healthy eating and exercise, Professor Froguel advised.
The findings are recently published in the open access journal PLOS ONE.