NORFOLK, Va., Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The "tipping point" in obesity often occurs before age 2 and sometimes as early as 3 months, U.S. researchers found.
Principal investigator Dr. John Harrington, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters and of Eastern Virginia Medical School, and colleagues examined records from a pediatric practice of 111 children whose body mass index exceeded 85 percent of that of the general population.
Researchers determined that these children had started gaining weight in infancy at an average rate of .08 excess body mass index units per month. On average, the progression began when the children were 3 months old.
More than half the children became overweight at or before age 2 and 90 percent before reaching age 5, Harrington said.
"I really think this should be a wake up call for doctors," Harrington said in a statement. "Too often, doctors wait until medical complications arise before they begin treatment. What this study suggests is that prevention of obesity should begin far, far earlier."
The finding was published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.