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Infants with hearty appetites may be predisposed to obesity, study finds

Infants with hearty appetites may be more likely to have a genetic predisposition to obesity, Counsel and Heal reported.

In one study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from University College London (UCL) discovered that infants with large appetites grow more quickly than other infants up until they are 15 months old. This rapid growth may put them at a greater risk for obesity later in life, researchers said.

"It might make life easy to have a baby with a hearty appetite, but as she grows up, parents may need to be alert for tendencies to be somewhat over-responsive to food cues in the environment, or somewhat unresponsive to fullness,” lead study author Jane Wardle, a professor at the UCL Health Behavior Research Centre, said in a press release. “This behavior could put her at risk of gaining weight faster than is good for her."

Another study published in JAMA Pediatrics, also from researchers at UCL, studied whether low satiety responsiveness – a reduced urge to respond to the body’s ‘fullness’ signals – was linked to a genetic predisposition to obesity.

In a study of 2,258 10-year-old children, researchers discovered that children with more genetic obesity risk variants were also more likely to have low satiety responsiveness.

"This suggests that satiety sensitivity could be targeted for pharmacological and behavioral interventions, to prevent or treat obesity. For example, children with lower satiety sensitivity could be taught techniques that might improve their fullness signals when eating, such as slowing their eating speed,” lead study author Dr. Clare Llewellyn, of the UCL Health Behavior Research Centre, said in the press release. “Another approach might be to provide better advice to parents and children about appropriate portion sizes, limiting access to 'second helpings' and ensuring tempting treats are out of sight between meals.”  

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