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Maternal and pediatric nutrition

Parental body mass index and its association with body composition, physical fitness and lifestyle factors in their 4-year-old children: results from the MINISTOP trial




To examine the association between parental body mass index (BMI) and their offspring’s body composition, physical fitness and lifestyle factors (that is, sedentary time, physical activity and diet).


A total of 307 preschoolers (4.5±0.1 years) and their parents (fathers: 38.1±5.1 years and mothers: 35.6±4.2 years) participated in this study. Parental BMI was calculated using self-reported weight and height. Preschoolers body composition was assessed using: BMI, fat mass percentage, fat mass index, fat-free mass index (measured via air-displacement plethysmography) and waist circumference. Physical fitness was assessed by the PREFIT fitness battery. Lifestyle factors were assessed using the ActiGraph wGT3x-BT (sedentary time and physical activity), and the mobile-phone based tool for energy balance in children (diet).


Parental BMI were positively associated with their offspring’s BMI (paternal BMI: standardised beta, β=0.233, P<0.001; maternal BMI: β=0.186, P=0.001), fat mass index (paternal BMI: β=0.130, P=0.026; maternal BMI: β=0.163, P=0.005), fat-free mass index (paternal BMI: β=0.214, P<0.001; maternal BMI: β=0.119, P=0.036) and waist circumference (paternal BMI: β=0.178, P=0.001; maternal BMI: β=0.179, P=0.001). A negative association was found between maternal BMI and their offspring’s standing long jump test (β=−0.132, P=0.022). Paternal BMI was associated with their offspring’s sedentary time (β=0.100, P=0.026), whereas parental BMI was not associated with neither physical activity nor diet (all P0.104).


Parental BMI was positively associated with their offspring’s BMI, fat as well as fat-free mass index and waist circumference. Moreover, a higher paternal and maternal BMI were related to higher levels of sedentary time and a lower performance in the standing long jump test of their offspring, respectively.

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The research team would like to acknowledge the participating parents and their four-year-old children for their valuable contribution to this study. Marie Löf received grants from the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, as well as the Swedish Research Council to conduct this study. Cristina Cadenas-Sanchez’s work was supported by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. (BES-2014-068829) MINISTOP is registered as a clinical trial ( NCT02021786). Pontus Henriksson is supported by Henning and Johan Throne-Holst Foundation. Hanna Henriksson is supported by grants from the Swedish Society of Medicine and the County Council of Östergötland, Sweden. Jonatan R Ruiz and FB Ortega are supported by grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (RYC-2010-05957 and RYC-2011-09011, respectively). Additional funding was obtained from the University of Granada, Plan Propio de Investigación 2016, Excellence actions: Units of Excellence; Unit of Excellence on Exercise and Health (UCEES). In addition, funding was provided by the SAMID III network, RETICS, the PN I+D+I 2017-2021 (Spain), ISCIII- Sub-Directorate General for Research Assessment and Promotion, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (RD16/0022) and the EXERNET Research Network on Exercise and Health in Special Populations (DEP2005-00046/ACTI). This study is part of a PhD Thesis conducted in the Biomedicine Doctoral Studies of the University of Granada, Spain.

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Cadenas-Sanchez, C., Henriksson, P., Henriksson, H. et al. Parental body mass index and its association with body composition, physical fitness and lifestyle factors in their 4-year-old children: results from the MINISTOP trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 71, 1200–1205 (2017).

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