Postprint version. Published in Advances in Pediatrics, Volume 56, Issue 1, January 1, 2009, pages 107-133.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Alison Ventura was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yapd.2009.08.012.
Are chubby babies healthy babies? Whereas most seem well during infancy, evidence is increasing that heavier babies have a poorer long-term health trajectory than their trimmer counterparts. Data have emerged over the past 2 decades that early life growth patterns and behaviors play an important role in the etiology of obesity, yet there has been very little focus on the primary prevention of obesity during infancy by the medical, behavioral health, and public health communities. A recent report from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) highlighted the need for very early intervention when it revealed that between 2003 and 2006, a staggering 24.4% of children aged 2 to 5 years already were overweight or obese (body mass index [BMI; calculated as the weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared] 85th–94th and ≥95th percentiles, respectively) . NHANES data also have described obesity (weight-for-length/height ≥95th percentile) among infants younger than 2 years ( Fig. 1). Between the late 1970s and 2000, the prevalence of obesity among infants 6 to 23 months old increased by more than 60% . Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System  and a Massachusetts Health Maintenance Organization  similarly showed significant increases in the prevalence of overweight for infants and toddlers for all age groups since the 1980s