Researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge Louisiana are looking at babies as young as two-weeks old to get more insight into the biology of metabolism.

The babies are part of a study that looks at what may affect our metabolism--as genetics play a role and that insight can be invaluable with an epidemic of obesity in our country.

Dr. Leanne Redman directs the maternal and infant research lab at Louisiana State University. It's the only lab in the world that is equipped to study the metabolism of newborn babies. In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Redman said that by studying babies, we can get to the biology of obesity.

She believes that studying the babies' metabolism in the first weeks of life is valuable because it is theoretically before a human's weight may be influenced by outside factors like what they're fed or what they choose to eat. This may help uncover a biological basis of obesity as newborns don't exercise and typically their diets are solely breastmilk or formula.

This information could lead to personalized plans for individuals to battle obesity, which is a driver for things like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Obesity affects nearly 20% of children and teenagers and over 40% of adults in America.

Dr. Redman said,
"Weight is the product of its energy balance. It's a basic physics equation: calories in and calories out. What's driving both of those factors — calories in and calories out — is very complicated. What is driven by biology and what's driven by behavior?"
Louisiana currently ranks poorly in the country with regard to obesity, with 22.2% of children 10-17 suffering from obesity in the state.

Dr. Redman says of Louisiana, "
"Louisiana is a living laboratory for the rest of the world, whether that's a good thing or not. We have diversity in income. We have diversity in race. We have diversity in ethnicity, and we have diversity in health conditions."
Babies enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-funded study are first brought into the lab at just two weeks old and hang out in the lab's "Pea Pod" while they're being measured for body fat percentage and metabolism.

The research may prevent the epidemic we see now in children and be of benefit to adults as well.