Kids who are obese in youth often remain obese into adolescence, according to research conducted at Boston Children's Hospital. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, surveyed data on nearly 4,000 U.S. kids over a period of five years.
The research team found that 83 percent of the kids who were obese in tenth grade were also obese in fifth grade. Only 12 percent of kids who were obese in fifth grade decreased their weight to a healthy level in the five-year period.
"Parents sometimes think that it's just baby fat and their kids will outgrow it, but we found a lot more constancy [of extra weight over time] than we anticipated," said study author Dr. Mark Schuster.
"Certainly, once you've gained weight and become obese or overweight, it's harder to change the habits influencing that. But just because kids are gaining weight as they get older doesn't mean they can't lose weight -- they definitely can."
Childhood obesity comes with a host of negative side effects including a higher risk of chronic conditions such as asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol, bone/joint problems, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer.