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Samoan obesity epidemic starts at birth

February 5, 2013
Check-up at the well baby clinic, American Samoa

The average weight gain curve of Samoan babies is similar to babies that are nutritionally deprived in the womb but then compensate by gaining weight rapidly after birth. Samoan babies are not undernourished. Credit: Kelley Smith

Postdoctoral researcher Nicola Hawley is part of a team to study the increasing prevalence of obesity in American Samoa. The results recently published in the journal Pediatric Obesity may not be confined to Polynesian populations, said the authors. American Samoa’s prevalence of obesity in infancy may be the harbinger of a slower-moving trend in the same direction in developed nations.

“One of the reasons we think Samoa is interesting is really because we think the level of obesity there could actually foreshadow what we see here in the United States and other high-income nations if we continue the way that we’re going,” said Hawley. Read more of David Orenstein's article on the Samoan obesity epidemic.