People who experience growth spurts during childhood could be more likely to become obese in later life, according to new research.
Researchers at Glasgow University compared the metabolic rates of zebra finches on a regular protein diet with those they switched from a low to high protein diet halfway between their growth period.
They found that the growth caused a 20% faster metabolic rate in adult birds than if they had grown more steadily.
Similar changes have been linked to obesity, according to Prof Neil Metcalfe, of the University.
Prof Metcalfe said: "It seems that the improvement in diet early in life caused a change in metabolism as well as a short-lived spurt in growth.
"The metabolic difference might be produced by a change in the size or functioning of key organs in the body, which would have long-term consequences.
"Metabolism has long been believed to affect the likelihood of obesity in humans.
"It is now becoming increasingly clear that our risk of becoming obese or getting various metabolic or cardiovascular diseases when we are adults is linked to our earliest years."
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