According to a new study, children who are relatively tall for their age have a higher risk of developing obesity.
In the study, published in Obesity, investigators examined the health records of 2.8 million children who were initially examined between 2 and 13 years of age.
When they were re-examined, an average of 4 years later (but up to 13 years later), it was found that taller children were more likely to have a higher body mass index than shorter children, the study said.
For example, among the thinnest children at the start, the prevalence of obesity at the second exam was five-fold higher in the tallest children than in the shortest children (3.1 per cent versus 0.6 per cent). Among the heaviest children at the start, the respective prevalence rates of obesity were 89.5 per cent versus 53.4 per cent.
The association between taller height and obesity at the second exam was strongest in children who were initially examined when they were younger than 7 years old.
"As about half of this association is independent of the initial body mass index of the child, the use of height may be a simple way to more accurately classify which children will become obese," said lead author David S Freedman, PhD, of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.