Appetite link to obesity identified

An infant’s hearty appetite might be seen as a healthy sign but could signal a predisposition to obesity, say scientists.


Babies who display two key aspects of appetite grow unusually rapidly up to the age of 15 months, research has shown.

This potentially increases their chances of becoming obese children, according to experts.

A second study found that 10-year-olds with a lower satiety response, making them less likely to stop eating when they feel full, were genetically more susceptible to obesity.

Satiety responsiveness (SR) was one of the measurements taken to monitor appetite in infants.

Scientists studied data from non-identical same sex twins born in the UK in 2007 who had different levels of SR and food responsiveness (FR), the urge to eat when seeing or smelling tempting food.

Within pairs, the baby that was more food responsive or less satiety responsive than its twin grew faster.

At 15 months old, both traits separately caused a twin to be around two pounds heavier than its sibling.

Lead scientist Professor Jane Wardle, from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London, said: “Obesity is a major issue in child health.

“Identifying factors that promote or protect against weight gain could help identify targets for obesity intervention and prevention in future.

“These findings are extremely powerful because we were comparing children of the same age and same sex growing up in the same family in order to reveal the role that appetite plays in infant growth.”

The findings appear in the journal JAMA Pediatrics alongside a second study by another UCL team from the Health Behaviour Research Centre.

Genetic data from 2,258 children aged 10 were used to create scores for susceptibility to obesity.