Body size and growth in 0- to 4-year-old children and the relation to body size in primary school age

Obes Rev. 2011 Aug;12(8):637-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00869.x. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


Excess weight in early life is believed to increase susceptibility to obesity, and in support of such theory, excess weight and fast weight gain in early childhood have been related to overweight later in life. The aim of this study was to review the literature on body size and growth in 0- to 4-year-old children and the association with body size at age 5-13 years. In total, 43 observational studies on body size and/or growth were included, of which 24 studies had been published in 2005 or later. Twenty-one studies considered body size at baseline, and 31 studies considered growth which all included assessment of weight gain. Eight (38%) studies on body size, and 15 (48%) on weight gain were evaluated as high-quality studies. Our results support conclusions in previous reviews of a positive association between body size and weight gain in early childhood, and subsequent body size. Body size at 5-6 months of age and later and weight gain at 0-2 years of age were consistently positively associated with high subsequent body size. Results in this review were mainly based on studies from developed Western countries, but seven studies from developing countries showed similar results to those from developed countries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Size*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Developing Countries
  • Growth
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Weight Gain*