Background: There is evidence that rapid weight gain during the first year of life is associated with overweight later in life. However, results from studies exploring other critical periods for the development of overweight are inconsistent. Objective: The objective was to investigate BMI development to assess at what ages essential differences between normal weight and overweight children occur, and to assess which age intervals the most strongly influence the risk of overweight at 8 years of age. Methods: Longitudinal weight and height data were collected by annual questionnaires in a population of 3963 children participating in the PIAMA birth cohort study. BMI and BMI standard deviation scores (SDS) were calculated for every year from birth until 8 years of age. BMI, BMI SDS and BMI SDS change in each 1-year-age interval were compared between children with and without overweight at 8 years of age, using t-tests, logistic regression analysis and the analysis of response profiles method. Results: At 8 years of age, 10.5% of the children were overweight. Already at the age of 1 year, these children had a significantly higher mean BMI SDS than normal weight 8-year-olds, (0.53 vs 0.04). In each 1-year-age interval the change in BMI SDS was significantly associated with overweight at 8 years with odds ratios increasing from 1.14 (95% CI 1.04-1.24) per 1 SDS increase at 0-1 year to 2.40 (95% CI 2.09-2.76) at 7-8 years. Conclusion: At every age, starting already in the first year of life, a rapid increase in BMI SDS was significantly associated with overweight risk at the age of 8 years. There was no evidence for a specific critical period for the development of overweight. Prevention of overweight should start early in life and be continued with age-specific interventions throughout childhood.,
Department of Pediatrics

Willers, S.M, Brunekreef, B, Smit, H.A, van der Beek, E.M, Gehring, U, de Jongste, J.C, … Wijga, A.H. (2012). BMI development of normal weight and overweight children in the PIAMA study. PLoS ONE, 7(6). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039517