Growth and Childhood Obesity: Perspective of Pacific Island Children in New Zealand
Pacific Island adults and children, living in New Zealand, by international standards have an extremely high prevalence of obesity. This chapter reviews the pattern of weight increase from birth to 6 years in a cohort of Pacific children in the Pacific Island Families study and in other cross-sectional studies that include Pacific children living in New Zealand. Factors shown to influence birth weight and growth include maternal size, breastfeeding, smoking and food patterns. At 4 years, birth weight, maternal size and smoking were positively related to subsequent body size, and breastfeeding, fruit and vegetable, and fat food consumption were negatively associated. In all surveys Pacific children were consistently larger than Maori and European children of the same age. Changes in fat mass and fat-free mass with time were examined using Hattori charts and the rapid rate of growth in Pacific children was described in terms of fat mass index and fat-free mass index. Because the larger body size can be tracked from birth it is important for both treatment and prevention that the aetiology, the time course from conception and the associated environmental pressures are also considered. This understanding should be applied to other populations exposed to similar obesogenic environments and intergenerational pressures.
KeywordsGestational Diabetes Mellitus International Obesity Task Force Pacific People Pacific Population Pacific Woman
Percent body fat
Body mass index
Centres for disease control
Child nutrition survey
Fat-free mass index
Fat mass index
International Obesity Task Force
Type 2 diabetes mellitus
World Health Organisation
SDScore standard deviation score
The Pacific Island Family Study is funded by grants from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the Child Health Foundation and the Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust.
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