Obesity concern for adolescents not for toddlers: Study

Updated: Jun 27, 2012, 16:21 PM IST

Melbourne: Australian researchers have claimed that obesity can have more affect during adolescence than in toddlers.

Research by Melbourne`s Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has said that underweight teenagers were generally healthy.

The study on 16,000 Australian children between 2 and 18 age group found that poorer overall health and special healthcare needs were linked to underweight young children, but such problems shifted to overweight and obese individuals in adolescence.

Physical health problems were largely absent in obese or overweight toddlers but started to appear from the age of six or seven, according to the study.

Lead researcher Melissa Wake said obesity in pre-schoolers and young primary school children seemed to be more of a risk factor than a cause of health problems.

"What it also highlights is this period of time between the early onset of obesity, when young children don`t really feel its full health-related effects, and adolescence, when obesity really starts to bite. What that tells us is that we do have quite a number of years in which to intervene to reverse that high weight," Wake was quoted by AAP.

The study showed it was important to monitor any deviation from a healthy weight at all ages. Researchers were surprised to find that underweight adolescents were among the healthiest in their age group, Wake said.

The best mental health was experienced by children of healthy weight and the worst by obese children, the study found.