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Is Genetics Responsible?

Article Summary:

A major study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine found genetics might be a key player in whether a child becomes obese early in life. The study was conducted using a sample of 7,738 children, measuring their height and weight seven times from kindergarten to eighth grade. The study found 1/3 of the children in kindergarten were overweight. During the eighth grade year, the study concluded, half of the obese kindergarteners were still obese, and ¾ of the very obese remained the same. The study found very few normal weight kindergarten children become obese by the eighth grade. The study was unable to conclude what was the root cause of the obesity, but it was clear that children who entered kindergarten overweight, were 4 to 5 times likelier to remain overweight. Efforts have been put in place to reduce the child obesity epidemic by implementing nutritional education, exercising, and removing soda machines in schools. Two other major studies conducted, with over 6K children and 137 schools, showed rigorous efforts to reduce obesity in children over age five, proved to be ineffective.

What is conclusive about this study? What is the purpose of this article? Genetics, the environment, and the culture of the child are all factors related to the obesity of that child, and with accurate education, the family and child can overcome this epidemic.

Article reference: 

Gina Kolata – Obesity is found to gain its hold in earliest years – Wall Street Journal – January 29, 2014 – Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/science/obesity-takes-hold-early-in-life-study-finds.html?_r=1

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7 Comments


Melissa Dunn
02/11/14

While this article can be emotional, it is also very informative. This article helps reinforce that past conditions can help predict future conditions. Because many of these kids’ environments did not change over the course of the study, the kids themselves did not change either.


Maggie
02/12/14

This article is very interesting in pointing out that the unfortunate situation of obesity in children has factors that are all interconnected. While the temptation is to say that it is just something that child will have to struggle with, looking at the possibility of genetic influence gives a focus for research on how it can be corrected so that these children might live healthier lives. The dominant information in the article reveals that the situations of child obesity are highly predictable and the study paves the way for efficient solutions.


Jordan
02/13/14

I think there could be a lot of other factors besides genetics that could be responsible for this trend that were not really discussed. While genetics do have a part in if a person is responsible, it is not all that causes it. The children that were obese and overweight in kindergarden and that a large amount of them were still overweight or obese could be do to their lifestyle changes. They probably learned at a young age habits for an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, and they never changed their patterns of behavior. This is probably because they saw their parents’ being unhealthy or had no motivation from their families to become healthy and have a normal weight. This is what happens in most homes, they stick to a pattern and it doesn’t change. This could be another explanation for why overweight or obese children tend to stay that way. This article does exhibit IMT because their initial conditions can predict the outcome after eighth grade given all the information.


Gunhee
02/13/14

I mostly agree with Alfredo’s comments regarding article. It is particularly interesting to see how the problem with obesity starts even before kindergarten. In addition to genetics, I think this also implies with the lifestyle and habits of the family in which the child is raised in. Younger children eat what their parents feed them, and if that is a lot of soda, fast food, and junk food, they will naturally start getting fat at a young age. Thus, Alfredo brings up a good point that we should educate the children and the family to change the environment and the culture. These are definitely better steps than the government simply trying to impose more control by getting rid of soda machines.


Nick Synodis
02/19/14

This is an interesting article that fits very well within the IMT model. For one, there is a clear idea of a person being his/her own environment–“two other major studies conducted…proved to be ineffective”, so clearly providing nutritional education and healthier options isn’t the end-all solution to obesity. While we have made a number of advances in genetics in the last 100 years, we are still scratching the surface, and there are a number of modern theories of genetics that explain how one’s environment (or better, one’s parent’s environment) can affect his/her genetics, especially at an early stage. This goes well with the article, which surveyed young students and showed that many of them didn’t change years later.


Courtland Jeffrey
02/20/14

This is a prime example of how control is nonexistent. It is mentioned that efforts were made to try and control the issue of obesity in children, but they did not have any effect. Officials tried to control childhood obesity by placing more rules and limitations on kids in schools, but, as part of the IMT, it is concluded that when a child is given more freedom and is released from the constraints of rules, they can perform the way they want to and can direct themselves onto a path that is good for themselves.


Rizwan Assainar
03/30/14

I feel there are 2 IMT principles existing in this study.
1. Forced change is difficult
2. A person is influenced by the location, environment and life style conditions that puts a child in this situation

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