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Early body mass index and other anthropometric relationships between parents and children


OBJECTIVE: To assess longitudinally the relationship between measures of adiposity in children over the first 8 y of life with that of their parents and to explore the role of parental adiposity in the development of childhood adiposity.

DESIGN: Longitudinal study of measures of adiposity in children.

SUBJECTS: A community sample from three health service systems including 114 children followed annually from infancy to age 8 and their 228 biological parents.

METHODS: Measurements were assessed at baseline for parents (6 months post-partum for mothers) and at regular intervals for children beginning at age 2 months. Measurements included weight, height, triceps skinfold, subscapular skinfold, midarm circumference, waist and hip.

RESULTS: The major findings were: (1) significant correlations between parental body mass index (BMI), both maternal and paternal, and their biological offspring first emerged at age 7; (2) children with two overweight parents had consistently elevated BMI compared to children with either no overweight parents or one overweight parent. These differences became significant beginning at age 7.

CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the hypothesis that familial factors (biological and/or environmental) affecting the development of adiposity emerge at specific ages and are related to the adiposity of both parents.

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This research was partially supported by a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) post-doctoral fellowship (5-T32MH19938) awarded to Dr Safer.

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Correspondence to DL Safer.

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Safer, D., Agras, W., Bryson, S. et al. Early body mass index and other anthropometric relationships between parents and children. Int J Obes 25, 1532–1536 (2001).

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  • body mass index
  • children
  • parent
  • parent–child relationship
  • overweight

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