(CBS) The road to obesity might begin before we take a bite of solid food, new research indicates.
According to the study, one-third of American children are obese or at risk of it by the time they've reached nine months. And by their second birthdays, the numbers don't get any better.
"With the consistent evidence that the percent of overweight children has steadily increased over the past decade, we weren't surprised by the prevalence rates we found in our study, but we were surprised the trend began at such a young age," lead author Brian G. Moss, an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University School of Social Work, told Science Daily.
There are some big-time caveats to the findings. Researchers studied children born in 2001, so it's not really a snapshot of children born today. Also, there is no clear correlation between an obese 9-month-old and an obese adult or even an obese 2-year-old for that matter.
Some children simply outgrow it, according to a Health Day report.
Interestingly, no correlation was found between high birth weight and extra weight later in a baby's development.
The statistics are alarming, nevertheless. When federal data on 16,400 children was examined, researchers found that 15 percent of 9-month-olds were overweight, while 17 percent were obese. That's a total of 32 percent baby blubber.
When the children reached the age of two, the numbers increased. Fourteen percent were overweight and 21 percent were obese.
Why the extra tonnage on our tots? Theories abound - too much fruit juice is a frequent culprit, as is a lack of breast feeding - but Moss' team has not yet explored that question.
The study is published in the January-February 2011 issue of the "American Journal of Health Promotion."
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