It found overweight kindergartners had four times the risk of becoming obese by age 14 as those of normal weight. In other words, almost half (45.3 percent) of overweight kindergartners will be obese by the eighth grade.
Kentucky has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country, tying Mississippi for the highest percentage of youth in grades 9 to 12 that are obese (18 percent). It has the third highest percentage of children ages 10 to 17 who are obese (21 percent), compared to 16.4 percent nationally, says a report from the Kentucky Task Force on Childhood Obesity.
Kentucky children ages 10 to 17 who are considered either overweight or obese is much higher, at 35.7 percent, according to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
The recent study of more than 7,000 children also found that most weight gain occurred in lower grades, with the greatest increase between first and third grades.
Another finding was that children who weighed 9 pounds or more at birth (12 percent of the population) were more at risk of becoming obese adolescents; more than 36 percent of the high-birth-weight children in the study were obese by 14.
The study suggests that obesity-prevention efforts should be focused on children who are overweight by the age of 5, since they are most susceptible to becoming obese.