March 05, 2020
Puff test raises child obesity questions
Researchers from the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute have found Māori and Pacific babies were not only bigger than European and Asian babies at birth but also leaner.
The extra weight came from fat-free mass such as bones, muscles, and organs rather than fat.
The researchers used a special air displacement machine combined with tape-measurements and sensitive scales to determine the fat mass and fat-free mass of 440 babies born in Auckland between May 2015 and April 2018.
Study lead and Middlemore Hospital dietician Tanith Alexander says the resarchers wanted to see if knowing body composition at birth could help identify risk factors for later metabolic disease, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The finding Māori and Pacific babies were heavier but leaner suggests that it is environmental factors in society that are mostly driving a shift in body composition so that by the time they reach childhood, they experience the highest rates of overweight and obesity of all ethnicities.
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