BACKGROUND: To improve the effective prevention and treatment of obesity, it is important to focus on body weight (BW) development and its determinants during childhood. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of early development, parental and genetic variables, and behavioral determinants on overweight at 12 y. DESIGN: In a Dutch cohort of 105 children, anthropometric measurements were conducted from birth until age 7 y. At age 12 y, anthropometric measurements were obtained again, as were measurements of body composition, leptin concentration, 3 polymorphisms, and physical activity, and the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire was conducted. In addition, parental body mass indexes (BMIs, in kg/m2) and Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire scores were determined. RESULTS: The children's mean (+/-SD) BMI at 12 y was 19.0 +/- 2.6, and 15.2% were classified as overweight. From the first year of life, BMI tracked significantly with BMI at age 12 y (r = 0.24, P < 0.05). Linear regression analyses showed that a rapid increase in BW during the first year of life, a high BMI of the father, and a high dietary restraint score of the mother were significantly associated with overweight at age 12 y (P < 0.05). No significant genetic relation was observed. In addition, overweight was positively associated with dietary restraint of the child, and percentage body fat was negatively associated with the child's activity score (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: In this homogeneous cohort of normal-weight to moderately overweight children, tracking of BMI during childhood took place from the first year of life. Overweight at age 12 y was predicted by an early rapid increase in BW and parental influences. Overweight during childhood may be maintained or even promoted by a high dietary restraint score and low physical activity.