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New Study Finds Obesity Risk Can Be Determined As Early As Age 5

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The fight to stop obesity in school age children is getting even younger.  A new study has some shocking numbers when it comes to predicting which children will end up being obese.

Monique Griego has the results and one family’s story.

The study shows that weight problems can start a lot earlier than we originally thought.

Last year, Tawanda Wilkens got some shocking news from her son’s Quaran Cox’s doctor. At just 9 years old, he was obese and at risk of developing a list of medical problems.

“It was scary as a parent. No parent would want to have that thought that their children could be at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure,” Wilkens said.

While recent efforts to stop childhood obesity have led to some gains, new research shows it’s still a huge problem and that much of a child’s weight fate is already determined by the time they are 5 years old.

Michelle Demeule-Hayes runs the Weight Smart Program at Mt. Washington Pediatrics.

“We realized these kids were getting heavier and heavier, earlier and earlier,” she said.

The study, which was done by the New England Journal of Medicine, followed more than 7,700 children, from kindergarten through eighth grade.

It found children obese at age 5 were four times more likely to become obese as a teen—32 percent compared to just 8 percent.

“This study shows that it starts earlier and really that we should intervene earlier,” Demeule-Hayes said.

One year on the Weight Smart Program, Quaran Cox has lost 10 pounds.

The program has taught him how “to eat healthy, stay active and exercise,” he said.

Now at lunch, Cox watches other kids eat junk foods like Doritos, popcorn and cookies.

He instead choses “some celery, salad or fruit,” he said.

And while eating healthy– especially as a kid– isn’t always easy, Cox’s energy is up and his basketball skills are on point.

“It feels good. Like now I can do a lot,” he said.

And another positive note, Cox recently passed his school fitness test for the first time.

The study came from a sample of kids nationwide.

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