What happens to children during the first years of life is important to their current and future health and well-being. Even the youngest children in the United States are at risk of becoming obese. Today, almost 10 percent of infants and toddlers carry excess weight for their length. (1)
Infant Obesity Linked to Childhood Obesity
Infant obesity sets a predisposition for obesity as children and adults. Researchers tell us, overweight babies lead to overweight children which lead to overweight adults. Researcher Dr. Jonathan Wells of the Childhood Nutrition Research Group, Institute of Child Health in London shares:
“Weight in early childhood sets the stage for overweight throughout childhood and into adolescence. Studies show that infants who are overweight for their length are likely to become overweight for their height in childhood. Similarly, children who are overweight in early childhood have a higher risk of being overweight as adults.” (2)
So how do babies become obese early in life? Like adults, infants need exercise to burn fat. A lack of exercise, even in infancy, can be linked to an increase in body size. Wells states:
“From the available research you could surmise three ways that babies benefit from exercise: constraining fat accumulation, building lean (muscle) mass, and the promotion of motor skills. It is particularly appropriate for children on the plumper side.” (3)
The Journal of Pediatrics concurs:
“Obesity or level of fatness is associated with decreased physical activity in infants. . . activity levels at 12 months of age were significantly related to both fat mass and percentage of body fat at 6 or 9 months of age.” (4)
“Source – BBC News / health / bbc.co.uk – © 2011 BBC”
Baby Builders vs. Baby Obesity
Both the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the British Heart Foundation have encouraged its citizens to keep their infants active (5, 6). “For children that are not yet walking, there is considerable international evidence that letting children crawl, play or roll around on the floor is essential during early years (7). Parents and caregivers need tools to give their infants the best possible start for the future
Baby Builders Infant Exercise Program can impact childrens’ future weight by empowering parents and caregivers to safely and effectively exercise their birth to walking infant. Baby Builders is designed to strengthen the core muscles, making movement easier for infants.
Infants who have strong postural control (core) muscle strength have better balance and coordination and ease of movement overall than infants who are weak. Stronger infants find it easier to move and are more active, decreasing their risk for obesity.
Furthermore, research is telling us that strength and balance can be improved with daily exercise training and development accelerated by exercise. (8)
We must provide parents with tools to give their infant the best possible start for the future. This is especially true for infants who are at risk for obesity.
“This matters to your child now, to their development through childhood and adolescence and to their disease profile in middle age and later life”
Dame Sally Davies Chief Medical Officer for England (9)
2.Conversation with Dr. Jonathan Wells, Childhood Nutrition Research Group, Institute of Child Health, London, United Kingdom. August 07.
3.Inkelas M, Halfon N, Uyeda K, Stevens G, Wright J, Holtby S, and Brown ER. 2001. The Health of Young Children in California: Findings from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey, Los Angeles and Sacramento: UCLA Center for Health Policy.
4.Li et al., Relation of activity levels to body fat in infants 6 to 12 months of age. J Pediatr. 1995 Mar;126(3):353-7.
8.Hadder-Algra M, Brogren E., Forssberg H. “Training affects the development of postural adjustments in sitting infants.” J Physiol. 1996 May 15; 493 (Pt 1): 289-98
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