Remission of obesity among a nationally representative sample of US children

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Abstract

Background:

Little is known about the incidence and natural history of obesity remission among children outside of weight loss programmes.

Objectives:

The objectives are to characterize and identify sociodemographic and early life predictors of obesity remission between kindergarten and eighth grade among a nationally representative sample of US children.

Methods:

The sample included children with obesity [age-specific and gender-specific body mass index percentile (BMI) ≥95] at the spring kindergarten assessment of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–99. Weight categories across 8 years of follow-up were used to identify three transition patterns: persistent obesity remission, non-persistent obesity remission and non-remission. Weight, height and BMI changes between remission categories were examined and predictors of persistent remission were identified.

Results:

One-third of children with obesity in kindergarten experienced remission during follow-up and 21.6% of children experienced persistent remission through eighth grade. Female gender and high socio-economic status predicted persistent remission; these associations were attenuated after accounting for baseline BMI. Children experiencing persistent remission gained less weight across waves than those experiencing non-remission.

Conclusions:

A meaningful proportion of young children with obesity experience remission by eighth grade. Further study is needed to identify factors that support obesity remission among children outside of treatment contexts.

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