Fat Babies become Fat Kids become Fat Teenagers become Fat Adults

You are not going to believe this but, according to some startling new research, there is a direct connection between an adult’s propensity to put on weight and our early childhood diet.

I know, I know. Who would have guessed that feeding your baby Big Macs and washing them down with Super Big Gulps could result in them having a “weight issue” as an adult?

Who could have guessed that?

Certainly not the parents of the kids in this video. (sorry about the music)

The Research

University of Calgary researcher, Dr. Raylene Reimer is a leader in the growing field of epigenetics. Her personal area of expertise is the developmental origins of health and disease. “Researchers in this area believe our pre-natal and early childhood environment influences our future risk of developing conditions like cardio-vascular disease, obesity and diabetes”.

“My research has shown that the food we eat changes how active certain genes in our body are – what we call genetic expression. In particular we believe that our diet has a direct influence on the genes that control how our bodies store and use nutrients,” says Reimer.

“There’s a growing body of work that indicates a relationship between our health as adults and our early diet, and even our mother’s diet. This research shows for the first time that our early childhood diet may have a huge impact on our health as adults.”

This research dovetails nicely with the previous studies which showed that:

  • baby_smokingBabies who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop lung cancer
  • Babies who do shots of tequila with their parents are more likely to become alcoholics, and
  • Babies who drive automobiles without wearing a seat belt are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents


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  1. Doug,

    Another great post. I’m sure that the research would also shows that people that enable their children are sure to spawn enablers.

  2. Ive always thought this to be true. In a lot of studies I have read on fish aquaculture if you raise the fish on an artificial diet they become fat and for life. EVen if you put them back on a natural diet they wil never be as muscular as their wild counterparts. Its developmental in them and I don’t see why we would be any different.

  3. Sad but true. I was asked to coach my daughters softball team (12 yr olds) and I have three parents who are complaining and threatening to take their kids off the team because we are running! I’m not talking track workout, typically I run them two laps around the field or we do 3 poles (home base to out field and back 3x). Of course these 3 parents have the 3 overweight kids on the team. Not sure how to respond to parents who enable their child to be fat and lazy. I told the parents that softball is a sport and that I have not asked the kids to do anything I’m not doing. I have run every lap and every base with them and I’m 46 years old! I’m frustrated to say the least.

  4. Pam,

    That is a strange situation.

    I assume that the parents put their kids into softball because it is a sport and because it’s good for their bodies and of course because it’s fun.

    Because of that, I would give the parents credit for putting their girls into a sport instead of letting them stay home all summer with their Wii.

    But why complain about the laps?


    I am guessing that the overweight kids complained to their parents because:

    1. Running is harder for overweight kids, and
    2. Thin, fit and fast kids sometimes tease the slower and doughier kids

    As an option to running as warm-up, how about:

    – A dynamic stretching routine to get the muscles/joints ready for the practice/game
    – instead of doing laps, let’s focus on shorter distances. – say from home plate to first base. Have the girls begin by slowly jogging to 1st base and then walking back. Do 2 or 3 reps at this speed. Then increase the speed to a quick jog, then to a run and finally to a sprint.

    This approach serves 2 purposes

    1. The shorter distances should be easier on the heavier kids
    2. Softball is more of a sprint/relax game than a game of constant movement. Because of this, sprints are a better training modality than steady state cardio.

    With all this being said, the overweight kids should be encouraged to do more exercise on their own time. They NEED the laps more than the thin kids do.

    Good luck

    If you need more info, feel free to contact me. Or, you may try getting in touch with Eric Cressey

    Eric’s a great physio/performance trainer who specialized with baseball players. I think that your story might touch his heart and he may be willing to offer some free support. it’s worth a try.

    If he’s not interested, feel free to give me a shout.

  5. I was a very overweight child. It started with me shortly after my 1st birthday. However, at the age of 12, I became tired of the weight and the teasing at school. I teetered on anorexia probably, but dieted along with getting taller. Now, I have reached the age of 49, and have managed to stay thin as an adult. Being an overweight child always lives with me, and I still fear being overweight. I’m not anorexic, but probably borderline due to my childhood weight problem. I will never make fun of overweight people and the fear of becoming overweight will always live with me, but it is not hopeless for overweight children with the adequate nutritional rules and exercise and plan and simple motivation.I also have been the parent of overweight kids, and have found out how difficult it is to discipline nutritional rules in the world of fast food. My kids have mostly conquered their weight issues also now. Even my mother was chunky as a child, but always a thin adult. I think this is encouraging for those overweight kids and worried parents. I love to write and am thinking of writing an article or story about my childhood weight problem and how it has affected my life in both positive and negative ways.

  6. Well , thats really not healthy for a young child. They could have problems with their hearts, probably have a heart attack at every young age. Who ever the parents are should be ashame. They are killing their child to let dem eat dat stuff. I have no kids im only 16 but still its not healthy

  7. what in the world are you trying to teach us. i have never in my life seen a newborn baby smoke.

  8. Have you seen parents feed their obese children junk food?
    Have you seen those kids grow up to be even more obese teenagers?

  9. Holy Mac’roni ! ROLFMFAO ! LOL LOL They are soooo cute even though they are FAT ! I just can’t help laughing ! OMG ! (no offence) But they are seriously really really really CUTE !

  10. Be careful. You may have no idea why those kids are fat. I was reading about this girl who was fat from infancy, BUT, also got a full head of hair (not just the wispy little-kid stuff) and all her teeth early, plus she was tall for her age. Her parents were like, “OK, if this is because we’re overfeeding her, how does overfeeding make all this other stuff happen?” They would put this child on starvation diets and she still wouldn’t go back down to “normal” weight. The state actually took the child away from her parents for a time. I think it came out later she had some weird genetic disorder that made her turn out that way.

    We have no way of knowing that these other kids don’t also have something going on.

    On the other hand, my older child was slender when he was with me, but when his grandparents started raising him he chubbed right out. Long story, nasty divorce and custody battle, they put on airs like they were better at parenting than I was but then rather than parent him, they stayed in grandparent mode and let him eat what he wanted. Now they’re just *mystified* that he has a weight problem, and they try the low-fat low-cal approach to no avail.

    My daughter is sturdy but slender, eats butter and cream and eggs in some form or another every day, and is not one shred overweight. Her brother began putting on weight before he was her age. Her dad and I both have weight problems, so logic says she should have been a porker by now.

    It’s going to come out that it’s the food. People want to talk about lazy kids but when you’re obese, it’s because your body is locking away your fatty acids instead of letting them circulate for energy, so you go around constantly hungry because you can’t access that energy. Read Gary Taubes, he has documented this stuff. These kids are eating things that keep their insulin elevated and so the fat keeps storing and storing rather than doing its job delivering energy to the lean tissues.

    I ate sort of OK when I was a kid–I was a fat baby, but a slender child–but when I was an adult I went high-sugar and ate too much fast food. Even then I might have been OK for a while but for the hormonal changes, first the Pill and then two pregnancies. For some reason, those were tipping points for me.

    People think getting fat is a continuous process. A lot of times it isn’t. You gain some weight, then you settle in, until some event knocks your weight one direction or the other.

    But yet again that is something we don’t completely understand as a society. If people aren’t going to make the effort TO understand then maybe it’s a bit premature for you to be pointing fingers.

  11. LINI Project » News » Fat Babies become Fat Kids become Fat Teenagers become Fat Adults says:

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  13. I agree that parents should take responsibilty for their children and their children’s lifestyle and eating habits. Unfortunately we are beginning to live in a society where people generally do not take responsibilty for anything.

  14. Doug, first I have to say that’s a great photo montage! Researchers are continuing to look at the connections between childhood, infancy and adult health concerns including obesity and diabetes.
    Over at Hive Health Media, there was an update about bottle-feeding leading to childhood obesity…

  15. Hi Doug,

    this is startling research data, indeed. Even our mother’s diet plays a role in out propensity to become obese. Research shows that obesity starts in the womb actually.

    Researchers have suggested that it’s not the genes of the mother that ultimately “transfer” obesity across generations, but rather the environment of the womb. This is what determines the weight, and the fate of the embryo.

    Great article Doug.

  16. Excellent! I was an 11 pound newborn (a cesearian, for all of you mums who just felt a shiver go down your spine). Does this mean I can quit this infernal dieting and exercise, go back to my adult 190 lb. weight, and just wear a button that says, “I was a fat baby” or perhaps, “I was never breastfed. Soy formula made me fat” ?

    To Pam, a very long time ago I tutored an after school program for students whose grades meant they were at risk of failing state exams. I created a “Mock Trial” club using state guidelines to teach math, logic, reasoning, public speaking, and a number of other skills. The kids and school district loved the program and every one of them passed their exams, but I frequently encountered parents who were critical of me because I asked kids with stage fright to try public speaking in a mock trial setting, I made them read the newspaper daily and create logic puzzles from articles, etc. I quickly realized something about these parents: as much as they love their children, it was difficult for them to watch their kids learn something which they themselves could not understand. It may have been harder to see them being taught by a young college student, but they were being critical of themselves since they felt like they couldn’t possibly learn formal logic (of course if they had the enthusiasm and open-mindedness of their kids, they so could!) I would say you are the teacher and parents need to recognize that boundary, and it’s not cool to change the warm ups for their sake.

  17. Now I would be the exception to this ‘rule’. I was a ‘fat’ baby (OK maybe not ‘fat’ but definitely a pudge) … and uh… well I’d like to think I’m not so ‘fat’ anymore.
    Proves that you CAN do something about it.

  18. Nothing about them is worth laughing about, it’s disgusting and sad that their parents have allowed this. Shame on anyone for laughing.

    & I don’t know if this news is actually anything worth posting about. I was a very skinny baby up until I was 12 and then I became chubby and eventually overweight and now I am skinny skinny again.

  19. […] have found that the food you eat is going to make a big difference upon the health of your future children.So, before you inhale another bucket of popcorn chicken, be aware that your diet will influence the […]

  20. This is sad.I bet they get teased a lot. Parents should be more responsible for the children’s weight and what they eat and the amount of excersise they get.Parents who allow this to happen should go to heck and be ashamed of themselves.

  21. Although I think that genetic predisposition is much stronger than early childhood influences on genetic expression (epigenetics), clearly BOTH issues boil down to avoidance of poor dietary and physical activity habits. This type of research, again, just reinforces that’s it’s never too early OR too late to choose healthy. If parents ‘miss the boat’ at first, IMO, not so much out of being neglectful or abusive, but more, out of ignorance — it MAY set a child up for a lifetime of obesity, but only if poor choices continue even after parents are given better info and support to change to better habits. The crucial ‘missing link’ lies in getting parents,children, and families the type of info and support they need to implement changes and SUSTAIN healthy lifestyles — back to square 1 — getting people to choose health in environments that make it easier to choose obesity and morbidity. As prevalence of obesity and super-obesity continues to rise, I’m sorry to say I really don’t know what it will take to make people choose health first.

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