Will your baby be obese? Checklist can predict weight gain

Ten fingers, ten toes, and an unhealthy future

A new checklist can help physicians predict a newborn's likelihood of becoming obese at birth and recommend obesity-prevention methods to parents, according to an article in PLoS One.

The checklist—which predicts obesity with 71% to 85% accuracy—is based on six factors:

  • 1. The baby's birth weight;
  • 2. His or her parents' body-mass indexes;
  • 3. The mother's weight gain during pregnancy;
  • 4. The professional category of the baby's mother;
  • 5. Whether the mother smoked during pregnancy; and
  • 6. The number of members in the baby's household.
  • Physicians found that parents' BMIs were the largest driver of whether a newborn would become obese. They also found that certain newborns were more or less likely to become obese as adults.

    Most likely to become obese: Newborns born weighing about nine pounds, with obese parents, to parents who work as skilled laborers, into a household of three, and to mothers who smoked during pregnancy had a 77% probability of becoming obese.

    Least likely to become obese: Newborns born into a household of five or more who weighed about 6.5 pounds at birth, had normal-weight parents, and to mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy had less than a 0.2% chance of becoming obese (Healy, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 11/29).

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