A brand new set of tests can predict whether or not a child will be overweight by the age of 10 within months of their birth.
Research on more than 7,000 famililes found that 12 different factors, including measures such as baby growth and the weight and health of parents, can indicate whether a child would become obese.
Most of the factors, reported the Daily Telegraph, can be identified before the child is even born.
What are the factors?
According to the scientists from the Netherlands who developed the tests, the mother’s age, education and ethnicity were indicators of whether a child would gain weight later in life.
As well as this, the child’s weight over the first six months of life, their birth weight and their gender were also crucial.
Researchers also found whether a mother smoked, had diabetes and the mother’s BMI were all relevant, as was whether or not the child attended daycare.
How can obesity be prevented?
Tanja Vrijkotte, an associate professor at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, said midwives, nurses or doctors should intervene as soon as possible using the predictor tool to warn parents of the risk of childhood obesity.
She told the European Congress on Obesity at Glasgow, “I think we should focus on prevention, for children to become healthy adults.
“But I think we should start earlier and use these kind of tools to discuss it with the parents.
“They can make parents aware that it is fine and there’s nothing going wrong, but your child has an increased risk.”
Vrijkotte said the warnings would allow doctors to look into feeding patterns and activity levels of the children most at risk, and advise changes to lifestyles to reduce the risk of gaining weight.