Rapid infant weight gain and early childhood obesity in low-income Latinos and non-Latinos

Sarah Polk, Rachel Johnson Thornton, Laura Caulfield, Alvaro Muñoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective To examine the growth of infants and toddlers in a population that is both under-represented in the literature and at high risk for childhood obesity. Design Weight and height measurements were extracted from all visits for a sample of 0-4-year-old, low-income, Latino and non-Latino patients of an urban, academic general paediatric practice. Early growth was characterized as change in weight-for-length Z-score (WLZ) from birth to 3 years. The outcome of interest was BMI Z-score (BMIZ) at age 3 years. Mixed-effects models and multivariate linear regression were used to analyse the association between infant growth and early childhood obesity. Setting Baltimore, MD, USA. Subjects Latino (n 210) and non-Latino (n 253) children, born in 2003-2004. Results An increase in WLZ from birth to 2 years was observed for this cohort as well as a high incidence of overweight and obesity. WLZ at birth and change in WLZ from birth to 2 years were both significantly and positively associated with increases in BMIZ at 3 years of age. The effect of the change in WLZ was twofold higher than the effect of WLZ at birth. Conclusions An increase in WLZ during the first 2 years of life increased the risk of early childhood obesity. Latino children had a higher incidence of early childhood obesity than non-Latino children in this low-income sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1777-1784
Number of pages8
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • BMI
  • Childhood obesity
  • Latino
  • Weight-for-length Z-score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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