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Childhood obesity has become a major public health problem in many countries. To explore the risk factors of overweight in infants and young children might be helpful in developing an early overweight intervention strategy.
To assess the prevalence of overweight and the relationship of parental characteristics and feeding practices to overweight in infants and young children in Beijing, China.
Data on weight and length/height were collected on 4654 children aged 1–35 months in twelve communities in Beijing from a cross-sectional study. Overweight was defined as weight-for-length/height ≥2sd above the median of the WHO reference. Two hundred and fifteen families with overweight children and 215 families with normal-weight children were interviewed using a questionnaire to obtain feeding practices.
The overall prevalence of overweight was 4·7 %. Both parental overweight and low parental education were significantly higher among overweight than normal-weight children. The total energy intake was significantly higher in overweight than in normal-weight children at 12–35 months of age. Compared with normal-weight children, significantly fewer overweight children were breast-fed for at least 4 months. Overweight children were also more likely to have been introduced to infant formula and semi-solid foods during the first 4 months.
Early prevention strategies should include feeding practices identified as putting children at risk of obesity. These include early cessation of breast-feeding and premature introduction of other foods.
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