SCIENTISTS have developed a simple DNA blood test which they claim can predict obesity levels in children as they grow up, it has been revealed.

Researchers at the University of Southampton have found that the test, which is carried out when a child is five years old, can predict how much body fat they will have when they are 14. The test checks a gene that regulates fat storage in the body.

Dr Graham Burdge, of the University of Southampton said: “We hope that this knowledge will help us to develop and test new ways to prevent children developing obesity which can be introduced before a child starts to gain excess weight. However, our findings now need to be tested in larger groups of children.”

The study, which also involved Exeter and Plymouth universities, is published in the journal Diabetes.

The researchers used DNA samples from 40 children who took part in the EarlyBird project, which studied 300 children in Plymouth from the age of five until they were 14.