The purpose of the current investigation was to determine the dietary, physical activity, family history, and demographic predictors of relative weight change in a cohort of 146 children over a 3-year period. Results indicated that boys of normal-weight parents or who had only one parent overweight showed decreases in their body mass index (BMI) while those with two parents overweight showed increases. Girls with an overweight father showed BMI increases while others experienced decreases in BMI. Additionally, baseline intake of kilocalories from fat as well as decreases in fat intake were related to decreases in BMI. At higher levels of baseline aerobic activity, subsequent changes in BMI decreased. There was also a trend for changes in leisure activity—increases in children's leisure activity was associated with decreases in subsequent weight gain. Modifiable variables (ie, dietary intake, physical activity) accounted for more of the variance in changes in child BMI change than nonmodifiable variables (eg, number of parents obese). These results strongly suggest that encouragement of heart healthy dietary intake patterns and participation in physical activity can decrease accelerated weight gain and obesity, even in preschool children.
- Received September 23, 1993.
- Accepted April 6, 1994.
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Academy of Pediatrics