All children born of Newcastle upon Tyne mothers in 1960, 1961 and 1962 who were obese at the age of ten years have been investigated. Anthropometric, social, and psychological data were collected from the children and their families. The results confirm that obesity in childhood has many causes. The obesity was of early onset in 43% of the children, the remaining majority becoming obese after the age of five year. The commonest 'at risk' factors were obesity in a first degree relative, an elderly mother, being an only child, and absence of one parent. Two or more of these factors were present in at least 60% of the obese children.
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