BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Doctors say the time between the ages of nine and 12 seems to be a "particularly vulnerable period" for girls.
That's because girls are more likely to become overweight in those years than they are as teenagers, doctors reports in Monday's Journal of Pediatrics .
The report was the result of a large new U.S. government study that included more than 2,300 9- to 10-year-old girls, who were followed for more than a decade.
Those who were overweight were more likely than other girls to have higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels and were 11 to 30 times more likely to be obese after their 21st birthday.
Black girls were also 1.5 times more likely to become overweight at any given age than white girls.
Parents should pay attention to creeping waistlines and poor eating habits, particularly in this age group, said Dr. Denise Simons-Morton of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research.
"It seems to be a particularly vulnerable period," said Simons-Morton, who heads obesity-prevention efforts at the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Some 17 percent of U.S. youngsters are obese and millions more are overweight, a problem affecting all ages. Overweight children are at risk of developing diabetes and they grow into overweight adults who, in turn, develop heart disease and other ailments