CHILDREN who are obese by the time they are eight find it harder to get slim later in life, new research has found.

The years-long study examined the diet and weight of 12,600 American children aged between one and 17.

Teenagers who had been overweight as children were found to consume fewer calories than their slimmer peers.

Despite this, they still found it harder to shift extra weight.

Study author Dr Asheley Cockrell Skinner said: “For many children, obesity may begin by eating more in early childhood.

“As they get older, they continue to be obese without eating any more than their healthy weight peers.”

The study said this could be partially down to the fact that overweight children are less active, therefore their bodies get used to using fewer calories to maintain their energy balance.

Worryingly, 23% of people are obese in the UK.

In Spain, although the figure is lower at 13%, obesity is on the rise with Spanish children the third most overweight in the world.

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