When 10-year-old Esmae Alpert was a preschooler, her father let her eat as much as she wanted. But he had concerns about her weight.
"I would give her large portions because as a baby, as a young kid, she loved to eat," Dave Alpert said.
New research suggests a lot of the risk for obesity appears to be set early in life.
"Children who came to kindergarten overweight had four-times the risk of becoming obese compared with normal weight kindergarteners," said Dr. Solveig Cunningham, one of the study's authors.
Researchers at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health followed nearly 8,000 children. Almost half the kids who were obese at 14 were already overweight when they were 5.
Dr. Dyan Hes is Esmae's pediatrician. She says taking simple healthier steps when children are small is the key to preventing obesity.
"It's so easy to cut calories just by stopping juice in a child's diet, giving low fat milk after 2 instead of whole milk, getting your kids active. Children should have one hour of physical activity a day," Hes said.
Esmae and her dad made all those changes.
"Tomatoes, blueberries, cheese sticks, yogurt," Esmae said.
Her dad is glad he stepped in early to give Esmae good eating habits he hopes will last a lifetime.
The study also found that babies born large are at the highest risk of becoming obese by high school.
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