A new study from Emory University has found that your "weight fate" is pretty much determined by the age of five. "A lot of the risk of obesity seems to be set, to some extent, really early in life," says Solveig Cunningham, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor of global health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.
Researchers tracked 7,700 children as they aged from 5 to 14. 12 percent of kids overall became obese, but 32 percent of overweight 5 year olds became obese. That's four times the rate of kids with normal weights.
But no one should start to panic and pile shame on the unfortunate overweight kindergarteners who are bound to get singled out by this study. Instead, we should stop being afraid of weight and take a more holistic approach to teaching kids to lead a healthy lifestyle.
"Our paper talks more to the timing than to what might actually work," Cunningham says. "But a lot of it is probably family-based. These are the ages in which kids' preferences and tastes and likes are set. By the age of 3, they already know what they like … and really promoting a healthy lifestyle and diverse diet at those early ages, really sets their preferences."