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The Effect of Growth Rate during Infancy on the Risk of Developing Obesity in Childhood: A Systematic Literature Review

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-10-04, 23:29 authored by Anela Halilagic, George MoschonisGeorge Moschonis
The prevalence of childhood obesity has been trending upwards over the last few decades. Recent evidence suggests that infant growth rate has the potential to increase the risk of obesity development during childhood. This systematic literature review aimed to summarise the existing evidence on the relationship between infant growth rate and subsequent childhood obesity. Studies were sought for that assessed the effect of infant growth rate on outcomes of overweight, obesity, BMI, waist circumference or body composition measures among a population group of children aged 2 to 12 years old. Data sources included PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science and MedLine. Twenty-four studies were identified as eligible and included in this review, out of 2302 publications. The ADA Quality Checklist was used to assess the quality of individual studies. Ten studies received a positive result and 14 studies a neutral result. A narrative synthesis was completed to present study characteristics and results. Several independent positive associations were determined between rapid growth at different stages during infancy and overweight, obesity, BMI, waist circumference and body composition in childhood. Further investigation is required to determine if a specific period of infancy carries greater associations of risk with childhood outcomes. Determining an ideal rate of infants’ growth as a means to minimise the future risk of childhood obesity should be the focus of future research that will also inform early life obesity prevention strategies. Registration no.: CRD42021244029.


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