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1.  Genetic Markers of Adult Obesity Risk Are Associated with Greater Early Infancy Weight Gain and Growth 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000284.
Ken Ong and colleagues genotyped children from the ALSPAC birth cohort and showed an association between greater early infancy gains in weight and length and genetic markers for adult obesity risk.
Genome-wide studies have identified several common genetic variants that are robustly associated with adult obesity risk. Exploration of these genotype associations in children may provide insights into the timing of weight changes leading to adult obesity.
Methods and Findings
Children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort were genotyped for ten genetic variants previously associated with adult BMI. Eight variants that showed individual associations with childhood BMI (in/near: FTO, MC4R, TMEM18, GNPDA2, KCTD15, NEGR1, BDNF, and ETV5) were used to derive an “obesity-risk-allele score” comprising the total number of risk alleles (range: 2–15 alleles) in each child with complete genotype data (n = 7,146). Repeated measurements of weight, length/height, and body mass index from birth to age 11 years were expressed as standard deviation scores (SDS). Early infancy was defined as birth to age 6 weeks, and early infancy failure to thrive was defined as weight gain between below the 5th centile, adjusted for birth weight. The obesity-risk-allele score showed little association with birth weight (regression coefficient: 0.01 SDS per allele; 95% CI 0.00–0.02), but had an apparently much larger positive effect on early infancy weight gain (0.119 SDS/allele/year; 0.023–0.216) than on subsequent childhood weight gain (0.004 SDS/allele/year; 0.004–0.005). The obesity-risk-allele score was also positively associated with early infancy length gain (0.158 SDS/allele/year; 0.032–0.284) and with reduced risk of early infancy failure to thrive (odds ratio  = 0.92 per allele; 0.86–0.98; p = 0.009).
The use of robust genetic markers identified greater early infancy gains in weight and length as being on the pathway to adult obesity risk in a contemporary birth cohort.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The proportion of overweight and obese children is increasing across the globe. In the US, the Surgeon General estimates that, compared with 1980, twice as many children and three times the number of adolescents are now overweight. Worldwide, 22 million children under five years old are considered by the World Health Organization to be overweight.
Being overweight or obese in childhood is associated with poor physical and mental health. In addition, childhood obesity is considered a major risk factor for adult obesity, which is itself a major risk factor for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other chronic conditions.
The most commonly used measure of whether an adult is a healthy weight is body mass index (BMI), defined as weight in kilograms/(height in metres)2. However, adult categories of obese (>30) and overweight (>25) BMI are not directly applicable to children, whose BMI naturally varies as they grow. BMI can be used to screen children for being overweight and or obese but a diagnosis requires further information.
Why Was This Study Done?
As the numbers of obese and overweight children increase, a corresponding rise in future numbers of overweight and obese adults is also expected. This in turn is expected to lead to an increasing incidence of poor health. As a result, there is great interest among health professionals in possible pathways between childhood and adult obesity. It has been proposed that certain periods in childhood may be critical for the development of obesity.
In the last few years, ten genetic variants have been found to be more common in overweight or obese adults. Eight of these have also been linked to childhood BMI and/or obesity. The authors wanted to identify the timing of childhood weight changes that may be associated with adult obesity. Knowledge of obesity risk genetic variants gave them an opportunity to do so now, without following a set of children to adulthood.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors analysed data gathered from a subset of 7,146 singleton white European children enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study, which is investigating associations between genetics, lifestyle, and health outcomes for a group of children in Bristol whose due date of birth fell between April 1991 and December 1992. They used knowledge of the children's genetic makeup to find associations between an obesity risk allele score—a measure of how many of the obesity risk genetic variants a child possessed—and the children's weight, height, BMI, levels of body fat (at nine years old), and rate of weight gain, up to age 11 years.
They found that, at birth, children with a higher obesity risk allele score were not any heavier, but in the immediate postnatal period they were less likely to be in the bottom 5% of the population for weight gain (adjusted for birthweight), often termed “failure to thrive.” At six weeks of age, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be longer and heavier, even allowing for weight at birth.
After six weeks of age, the obesity risk allele score was not associated with any further increase in length/height, but it was associated with a more rapid weight gain between birth and age 11 years. BMI is derived from height and weight measurements, and the association between the obesity risk allele score and BMI was weak between birth and age three-and-a-half years, but after that age the association with BMI increased rapidly. By age nine, children with a higher obesity risk allele score tended to be heavier and taller, with more fat on their bodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The combined obesity allele risk score is associated with higher rates of weight gain and adult obesity, and so the authors conclude that weight gain and growth even in the first few weeks after birth may be the beginning of a pathway of greater adult obesity risk.
A study that tracks a population over time can find associations but it cannot show cause and effect. In addition, only a relatively small proportion (1.7%) of the variation in BMI at nine years of age is explained by the obesity risk allele score.
The authors' method of finding associations between childhood events and adult outcomes via genetic markers of risk of disease as an adult has a significant advantage: the authors did not have to follow the children themselves to adulthood, so their findings are more likely to be relevant to current populations. Despite this, this research does not yield advice for parents how to reduce their children's obesity risk. It does suggest that “failure to thrive” in the first six weeks of life is not simply due to a lack of provision of food by the baby's caregiver but that genetic factors also contribute to early weight gain and growth.
The study looked at the combined obesity risk allele score and the authors did not attempt to identify which individual alleles have greater or weaker associations with weight gain and overweight or obesity. This would require further research based on far larger numbers of babies and children. The findings may also not be relevant to children in other types of setting because of the effects of different nutrition and lifestyles.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Further information is available on the ALSPAC study
The UK National Health Service and other partners provide guidance on establishing a healthy lifestyle for children and families in their Change4Life programme
The International Obesity Taskforce is a global network of expertise and the advocacy arm of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. It works with the World Health Organization, other NGOs, and stakeholders and provides information on overweight and obesity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US provide guidance and tips on maintaining a healthy weight, including BMI calculators in both metric and Imperial measurements for both adults and children. They also provide BMI growth charts for boys and girls showing how healthy ranges vary for each sex at with age
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health provides growth charts for weight and length/height from birth to age 4 years that are based on WHO 2006 growth standards and have been adapted for use in the UK
The CDC Web site provides information on overweight and obesity in adults and children, including definitions, causes, and data
The CDC also provide information on the role of genes in causing obesity.
The World Health Organization publishes a fact sheet on obesity, overweight and weight management, including links to childhood overweight and obesity
Wikipedia includes an article on childhood obesity (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2876048  PMID: 20520848
2.  Earlier Mother's Age at Menarche Predicts Rapid Infancy Growth and Childhood Obesity 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e132.
Early menarche tends to be preceded by rapid infancy weight gain and is associated with increased childhood and adult obesity risk. As age at menarche is a heritable trait, we hypothesised that age at menarche in the mother may in turn predict her children's early growth and obesity risk.
Methods and Findings
We tested associations between mother's age at menarche, mother's adult body size and obesity risk, and her children's growth and obesity risk in 6,009 children from the UK population-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort who had growth and fat mass at age 9 y measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. A subgroup of 914 children also had detailed infancy and childhood growth data. In the mothers, earlier menarche was associated with shorter adult height (by 0.64 cm/y), increased weight (0.92 kg/y), and body mass index (BMI, 0.51 kg/m2/y; all p < 0.001). In contrast, in her children, earlier mother's menarche predicted taller height at 9 y (by 0.41 cm/y) and greater weight (0.80 kg/y), BMI (0.29 kg/m2/y), and fat mass index (0.22 kg/m2/year; all p < 0.001). Children in the earliest mother's menarche quintile (≤11 y) were more obese than the oldest quintile (≥15 y) (OR, 2.15, 95% CI 1.46 to 3.17; p < 0.001, adjusted for mother's education and BMI). In the subgroup, children in the earliest quintile showed faster gains in weight (p < 0.001) and height (p < 0.001) only from birth to 2 y, but not from 2 to 9 y (p = 0.3–0.8).
Earlier age at menarche may be a transgenerational marker of a faster growth tempo, characterised by rapid weight gain and growth, particularly during infancy, and leading to taller childhood stature, but likely earlier maturation and therefore shorter adult stature. This growth pattern confers increased childhood and adult obesity risks.
Earlier age at menarche may be a transgenerational marker of faster growth, particularly during infancy, leading to taller childhood stature but earlier maturation and hence shorter adult stature.
Editors' Summary
Childhood obesity is a rapidly growing problem. Twenty-five years ago, overweight children were rare. Now, 155 million of the world's children are overweight and 30–45 million are obese. Overweight and obese children—those having a higher than average body mass index (BMI; weight divided by height squared) for their age and sex—are at increased risk of becoming obese adults. Such people are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems than lean people. Many factors are involved in the burgeoning size of children. Parental obesity, for example, predisposes children to being overweight. In part, this is because parents influence the eating habits of their offspring and the amount of exercise they do. In addition, though, children inherit genetic factors from their parents that make them more likely to put on weight.
Why Was This Study Done?
To prevent childhood obesity, health care professionals need ways to predict which infants are likely to become obese so that they can give parents advice on controlling their children's weight. In girls, early menarche (the start of menstruation) is associated with an increased risk of childhood and adult obesity and tends to be preceded by rapid weight gain in the first two years of life. Because age at menarche is inherited, the researchers in this study have investigated whether mothers' age at menarche predicts rapid growth in infancy and childhood obesity in their offspring using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). In 1991–1992, this study recruited nearly 14,000 children born in Bristol, UK. Since then, the children have been regularly examined to investigate how their environment and genetic inheritance interact to affect their health.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured the growth and fat mass of 6,009 children from ALSPAC at 9 years of age. For 914 of these children, the researchers had detailed data on their growth during infancy and early childhood. They then looked for any associations between the mother's age at menarche (as recalled during pregnancy), mother's adult body size, and the children's growth and obesity risk. In the mothers, earlier menarche was associated with shorter adult height and increased weight and BMI. In the children, those whose mothers had earlier menarche were taller and heavier than those whose mothers had a later menarche. They also had a higher BMI and more body fat. The children whose mothers had their first period before they were 11 were twice as likely to be obese as those whose mothers did not menstruate until they were 15 or older. Finally, for the children with detailed early growth data, those whose mothers had the earliest menarche had faster weight and height gains in the first two years of life (but not in the next seven years) than those whose mothers had the latest menarche.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that earlier mother's menarche predicts a faster growth tempo (the speed at which an individual reaches their adult height) in their offspring, which is characterized by rapid weight and height gain during infancy. This faster growth tempo leads to taller childhood stature, earlier sexual maturity, and—because age at puberty determines adult height—shorter adult stature. An inherited growth pattern like this, the researchers write, confers an increased risk of childhood and adult obesity. As with all studies that look for associations between different measurements, these findings will be affected by the accuracy of the measurements—for example, how well the mothers recalled their age at menarche. Furthermore, because puberty, particularly in girls, is associated with an increase in body fat, a high BMI at age nine might indicate imminent puberty rather than a risk of long-standing obesity—further follow-up studies will clarify this point. Nevertheless, the current findings provide a new factor—earlier mother's menarche—that could help health care professionals identify which infants require early growth monitoring to avoid later obesity.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children has a description of the study and results to date
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
US Department of Health and Human Services's program, Smallstep Kids, is an interactive site for children about healthy eating (in English and Spanish)
The International Obesity Taskforce has information on obesity and its prevention
The World Heart Federation's Global Prevention Alliance provides details of international efforts to halt the obesity epidemic and its associated chronic diseases
The Child Growth Foundation has information on childhood growth and its measurement
PMCID: PMC1876410  PMID: 17455989
3.  Rapid Infancy Weight Gain and 7- to 9-year Childhood Obesity Risk 
Medicine  2016;95(16):e3425.
Obesity is increasing in developing countries. This study aimed to identify the association between rapid infancy weight gain and obesity risk among early school-age children.
A total of 581 singletons (349 boys, 232 girls) whose mothers participated in an antenatal multiple micronutrient supplement trial in rural western China were followed from birth to between 7 and 9 years of age. Height and weight were measured at birth, 1.5 years, and between 7 and 9 years. At the 7- to 9-year time point, body composition was determined using bioelectrical impedance analysis. Multilevel mixed analysis was used to test the associations between rapid weight gain in infancy (from birth to age 1.5 years) and body size and composition or overweight/obesity among early school-age children.
Overall, 31.2% (181 of 581) of the infants showed a weight-for-age Z score gain greater than 0.67 between birth and 1.5 years, indicating rapid weight gain. Approximately 5.7% (33 of 579) of the subjects were overweight (BMI-for-age Z scores [BAZ] >1 and ≤2) or obese (BAZ >2). Rapid infancy weight gain was associated with a higher BAZ (P < 0.001), mid-upper arm circumferences (P < 0.001), percentage body fat (P < 0.001), and fat mass index (P < 0.001) at 7 to 9 years of age after adjusting for biological and social economic factors, genetic factors, and perinatal and postnatal factors. These associations appeared to be independent of gender, economic status at early school age, and maternal nutritional status at enrollment. Rapid growers may have approximately 3 times the risk of being overweight/obese during the early school-age years (odds ratio = 2.94, 95% CI: 1.17–7.43, P = 0.022).
Rapid infancy weight gain is a risk factor for being overweight/obesity among early school-age children in rural western China. We propose that social and biological determinants, such as economic status, physical activity, and feeding practice, should be targeted to prevent obesity.
PMCID: PMC4845839  PMID: 27100435
4.  Early growth and coronary heart disease in later life: longitudinal study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;322(7292):949-953.
To determine how growth during infancy and childhood modifies the increased risk of coronary heart disease associated with small body size at birth.
Longitudinal study.
Helsinki, Finland.
4630 men who were born in the Helsinki University Hospital during 1934-44 and who attended child welfare clinics in the city. Each man had on average 18.0 (SD 9.5) measurements of height and weight between birth and age 12 years.
Main outcome measures
Hospital admission or death from coronary heart disease.
Low birth weight and low ponderal index (birth weight/length3) were associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. Low height, weight, and body mass index (weight/height2) at age 1 year also increased the risk. Hazard ratios fell progressively from 1.83 (95% confidence interval 1.28 to 2.60) in men whose body mass index at age 1 year was below 16 kg/m2 to 1.00 in those whose body mass index was >19 (P for trend=0.0004). After age 1 year, rapid gain in weight and body mass index increased the risk of coronary heart disease. This effect was confined, however, to men with a ponderal index <26 at birth. In these men the hazard ratio associated with a one unit increase in standard deviation score for body mass index between ages 1 and 12 years was 1.27 (1.10 to 1.47; P=0.001).
Irrespective of size at birth, low weight gain during infancy is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease. After age 1 year, rapid weight gain is associated with further increase in risk, but only among boys who were thin at birth. In these boys the adverse effects of rapid weight gain on later coronary heart disease are already apparent at age 3 years. Improvements in fetal, infant, and child growth could lead to substantial reductions in the incidence of coronary heart disease.
What is already known on this topicCoronary heart disease is associated with low birth weightOne study has shown that irrespective of size at birth, low weight gain in infancy is also associated with increased risk of the disease among menRapid weight gain after age 6 years is associated with further increase in riskWhat this study addsThe association with low weight gain in infancy is confirmedThe adverse effects of rapid childhood weight gain on risk of coronary heart disease are already apparent at age 3 years and occur only in boys who were thin at birth
PMCID: PMC31033  PMID: 11312225
5.  Longitudinal changes in infant body composition: association with childhood obesity 
Pediatric obesity  2014;9(6):e141-e144.
Rapid weight gain in infancy has been established as a risk factor for the development of later obesity.
We aimed to investigate the role of changes in infant body composition (assessed via total body electrical conductivity) on the development of overweight/obesity in mid-childhood.
Fifty-three term infants were evaluated at birth, three times during infancy and in mid-childhood. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between rates of total weight gain, fat mass gain and lean mass gain during infancy and later overweight/obesity (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥85th percentile), adjusted for birth weight and parent education.
At follow-up (age 9.0 ± 1.8 years), 30% were overweight/obese. More rapid total weight gain from 0 to 4 months was associated with twofold odds (odds ratio [OR] 1.98, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05–3.74, P = 0.04) of overweight/obesity in mid-childhood. From 0 to 8 months, more rapid weight gain was associated with nearly fivefold odds (OR 4.76, 95% CI 1.05–21.5, P = 0.04), and more rapid fat mass gain was associated with eightfold odds (OR 8.03, 95% CI 1.11–58.2, P = 0.04) of later overweight/obesity.
This exploratory study suggests that rapid weight gain, especially fat mass gain, in earlier infancy predisposes to mid-childhood overweight/obesity.
PMCID: PMC4702488  PMID: 25267097
Infant fat mass; infant weight gain; perinatal programming
6.  Pregnancy Weight Gain and Childhood Body Weight: A Within-Family Comparison 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001521.
David Ludwig and colleagues examine the within-family relationship between pregnancy weight gain and the offspring's childhood weight gain, thereby reducing the influence of genes and environment.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Excessive pregnancy weight gain is associated with obesity in the offspring, but this relationship may be confounded by genetic and other shared influences. We aimed to examine the association of pregnancy weight gain with body mass index (BMI) in the offspring, using a within-family design to minimize confounding.
Methods and Findings
In this population-based cohort study, we matched records of all live births in Arkansas with state-mandated data on childhood BMI collected in public schools (from August 18, 2003 to June 2, 2011). The cohort included 42,133 women who had more than one singleton pregnancy and their 91,045 offspring. We examined how differences in weight gain that occurred during two or more pregnancies for each woman predicted her children's BMI and odds ratio (OR) of being overweight or obese (BMI≥85th percentile) at a mean age of 11.9 years, using a within-family design. For every additional kg of pregnancy weight gain, childhood BMI increased by 0.0220 (95% CI 0.0134–0.0306, p<0.0001) and the OR of overweight/obesity increased by 1.007 (CI 1.003–1.012, p = 0.0008). Variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a 0.43 kg/m2 difference in childhood BMI. After adjustment for birth weight, the association of pregnancy weight gain with childhood BMI was attenuated but remained statistically significant (0.0143 kg/m2 per kg of pregnancy weight gain, CI 0.0057–0.0229, p = 0.0007).
High pregnancy weight gain is associated with increased body weight of the offspring in childhood, and this effect is only partially mediated through higher birth weight. Translation of these findings to public health obesity prevention requires additional study.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Childhood obesity has become a worldwide epidemic. For example, in the United States, the number of obese children has more than doubled in the past 30 years. 7% of American children aged 6–11 years were obese in 1980, compared to nearly 18% in 2010. Because of the rising levels of obesity, the current generation of children may have a shorter life span than their parents for the first time in 200 years.
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health. The initial problems are usually psychological. Obese children often experience discrimination, leading to low self-esteem and depression. Their physical health also suffers. They are more likely to be at risk of cardiovascular disease from high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They may also develop pre-diabetes or diabetes type II. In the long-term, obese children tend to become obese adults, putting them at risk of premature death from stroke, heart disease, or cancer.
There are many factors that lead to childhood obesity and they often act in combination. A major risk factor, especially for younger children, is having at least one obese parent. The challenge lies in unravelling the complex links between the genetic and environmental factors that are likely to be involved.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several studies have shown that a child's weight is influenced by his/her mother's weight before pregnancy and her weight gain during pregnancy. An obese mother, or a mother who puts on more pregnancy weight than average, is more likely to have an obese child.
One explanation for the effects of pregnancy weight gain is that the mother's overeating directly affects the baby's development. It may change the baby's brain and metabolism in such a way as to increase the child's long-term risk of obesity. Animal studies have confirmed that the offspring of overfed rats show these kinds of physiological changes. However, another possible explanation is that mother and baby share a similar genetic make-up and environment so that a child becomes obese from inheriting genetic risk factors, and growing up in a household where being overweight is the norm.
The studies in humans that have been carried out to date have not been able to distinguish between these explanations. Some have given conflicting results. The aim of this study was therefore to look for evidence of links between pregnancy weight gain and children's weight, using an approach that would separate the impact of genetic and environmental factors from a direct effect on the developing baby.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined data from the population of the US state of Arkansas recorded between 2003 and 2011. They looked at the health records of over 42,000 women who had given birth to more than one child during this period. This gave them information about how much weight the women had gained during each of their pregnancies. The researchers also looked at the school records of the children, over 91,000 in total, which included the children's body mass index (BMI, which factors in both height and weight). They analyzed the data to see if there was a link between the mothers' pregnancy weight gain and the child's BMI at around 12 years of age. Most importantly, they looked at these links within families, comparing children born to the same mother. The rationale for this approach was that these children would share a similar genetic make-up and would have grown up in similar environments. By taking genetics and environment into account in this manner, any remaining evidence of an impact of pregnancy weight gain on the children's BMI would have to be explained by other factors.
The results showed that the amount of weight each mother gained in pregnancy predicted her children's BMI and the likelihood of her children being overweight or obese. For every additional kg the mother gained during pregnancy, the children's BMI increased by 0.022. The children of mothers who put on the most weight had a BMI that was on average 0.43 higher than the children whose mothers had put on the least weight.
The study leaves some questions unanswered, including whether the mother's weight before pregnancy makes a difference to their children's BMI. The researchers were not able to obtain these measurements, nor the weight of the fathers. There may have also been other factors that weren't measured that might explain the links that were found.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that mothers who gain excessive weight during pregnancy increase the risk of their child becoming obese. This appears to be partly due to a direct effect on the developing baby.
These results represent a significant public health concern, even though the impact on an individual basis is relatively small. They could contribute to several hundred thousand cases of childhood obesity worldwide. Importantly, they also suggest that some cases could be prevented by measures to limit excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Such an approach could prove effective, as most mothers will not want to damage their child's health, and might therefore be highly motivated to change their behavior. However, because inadequate weight gain during pregnancy can also adversely affect the developing fetus, it will be essential for women to receive clear information about what constitutes optimal weight gain during pregnancy.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide Childhood Obesity Facts
The UK National Health Service article “How much weight will I put on during my pregnancy?” provides information on pregnancy and weight gain and links to related resources
PMCID: PMC3794857  PMID: 24130460
7.  Is infant weight associated with childhood blood pressure? Analysis of the Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT) cohort 
Background Weight gain during infancy may programme later health outcomes, but examination of this hypothesis requires appropriate lifecourse methods and detailed weight gain measures during childhood. We examined associations between weight gain in infancy and early childhood and blood pressure at the age of 6.5 years in healthy children born at term.
Methods We carried out an observational analysis of data from a cluster-randomized breastfeeding promotion trial in Belarus. Of 17 046 infants enrolled between June 1996 and December 1997, 13 889 (81.5%) had systolic and diastolic blood pressure measured at 6.5 years; 10 495 children with complete data were analysed. A random-effects linear spline model with three knot points was used to estimate each individual's birthweight and weight gain from birth to 3 months, 3 months to 1 year and 1–5 years. Path analysis was used to separate direct effects from those mediated through subsequent weight gain.
Results In boys, after controlling for confounders and prior weight gain, the change in systolic blood pressure per z-score increase in weight gain was 0.09 mmHg [95% confidence interval (95% CI) −0.14 to 0.31] for birthweight; 0.41 mmHg (95% CI 0.19–0.64) for birth to 3 months; 0.69 mmHg (95% CI 0.47–0.92) for 3 months to 1 year and 0.82 mmHg (95% CI 0.58–1.06) for 1–5 years. Most of the associations between weight gain and blood pressure were mediated through weight at the age of 6.5 years. Findings for girls and diastolic blood pressure were similar.
Conclusions Children who gained weight faster than their peers, particularly at later ages, had higher blood pressure at the age of 6.5 years, with no association between birthweight and blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC3383097  PMID: 22039193
Birthweight; blood pressure; lifetime; multi-level model; path analysis; weight gain
8.  Follow-up Study of Physical Growth of Children Who Had Excessive Weight Gain in First Six Months of Life 
British Medical Journal  1970;2(5701):74-76.
The aim of this study was to determine whether excessive weight gain in the first six weeks, three months, or six months of life was correlated. with overweight and obesity at the age of 6 to 8 years. One hundred and thirty eight infants with excessive weight gain in the first six months of life, 53 children with slow weight gain, and 33 children with an average weight gain were re-examined at the age of 6, 7, or 8 years.
The mean height and weight of children who had gained weight rapidly in infancy were significantly higher than those of children who had gained weight slowly; those of infants whose weight gain had been average fell in between. The number of obese children in the rapid-weight-gain group was significantly higher than that of the combined average and slow-weight-gain groups. The rapidity of weight gain in infancy was a better guide to the risk of overweight in later childhood than the weight of the parents.
PMCID: PMC1699929  PMID: 5420235
9.  Describing differences in weight and length growth trajectories between white and Pakistani infants in the UK: analysis of the Born in Bradford birth cohort study using multilevel linear spline models 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2013;98(4):274-279.
To describe the growth pattern from birth to 2 years of UK-born white British and Pakistani infants.
Birth cohort.
Bradford, UK.
314 white British boys, 383 Pakistani boys, 328 white British girls and 409 Pakistani girls.
Main outcome measures
Weight and length trajectories based on repeat measurements from birth to 2 years.
Linear spline multilevel models for weight and length with knot points at 4 and 9 months fitted the data well. At birth Pakistani boys were 210 g lighter (95% CI −290 to −120) and 0.5 cm shorter (−1.04 to 0.02) and Pakistani girls were 180 g lighter (−260 to −100) and 0.5 cm shorter (−0.91 to −0.03) than white British boys and girls, respectively. Pakistani infants gained length faster than white British infants between 0 and 4 months (+0.3 cm/month (0.1 to 0.5) for boys and +0.4 cm/month (0.2 to 0.6) for girls) and gained more weight per month between 9 and 24 months (+10 g/month (0 to 30) for boys and +30 g/month (20 to 40) for girls). Adjustment for maternal height attenuated ethnic differences in weight and length at birth, but not in postnatal growth. Adjustment for other confounders did not explain differences in any outcomes.
Pakistani infants were lighter and had shorter predicted mean length at birth than white British infants, but gained weight and length quicker in infancy. By age 2 years both ethnic groups had similar weight, but Pakistani infants were on average taller than white British infants.
PMCID: PMC3858016  PMID: 23418036
Growth; Ethnicity; Child; Born in Bradford; Multilevel Models
10.  Postnatal weight and height growth velocities at different ages between birth and 5 y and body composition in adolescent boys and girls 
Rapid weight gain in the first years of life is associated with adult obesity. Whether there are critical windows for this long term effect is unclear.
To study anthropometry in adolescence by gender according to weight and height growth velocities at different ages between birth and five years.
Anthropometric parameters, including fat and fat-free mass by bipodal impedancemetry, were measured in 468 8–17 year old adolescents. We retrospectively collected early infancy data and individually estimated weight and height growth velocities in 69.4% of them using a mathematical model. Associations between birth parameters, growth velocities and anthropometric parameters in adolescence were studied.
Weight growth velocity at three months was associated with overweight (OR for a 1 SD increase [95% CI]=1.52[1.04–2.22]), fat mass and waist circumference in adolescence in both genders, and with fat-free mass only in boys (r=0.29, P<0.001 versus r=−0.01, ns in girls). Weight growth velocities after 2 years were associated with all anthropometric parameters in adolescence, in both genders. Between 6 months and 2 years, weight growth velocities were significantly associated only with adolescent height in boys; in girls, associations with fat mass in adolescence were weaker.
Our results support the hypothesis of two critical windows in early childhood associated with the later risk of obesity: up to 6 months and from 2 years onwards. The study of the determinants of growth during these two periods is of major importance for the prevention of obesity in adolescence.
PMCID: PMC4767885  PMID: 18541566
Early Postnatal Growth; Growth Model; Fat Mass; Fat-Free Mass; Adolescents
11.  Early rapid weight gain and subsequent overweight and obesity in middle childhood in Peru 
BMC obesity  2016;3:55.
Rapid postnatal weight gain is associated with risk of overweight and obesity, but it’s unclear whether this holds in populations exposed to concurrent obesogenic risk factors and for children who have been extensively breastfed. This study investigates whether an increase in weight for age from birth to 1 year (infancy) and from 1 to 5 years (early childhood) predicts overweight and obesity, and waist circumference at 8 years, using data from a longitudinal cohort study in Peru.
Generalized estimating equations (GEE) models were constructed for overweight and obesity, obesity alone and waist circumference at 8 years versus rapid weight gain in infancy, and early childhood including adjusted models to account for confounders.
Rapid weight gain in both periods was associated with double the risk of overweight and obesity, obesity alone at 8 years and increased waist circumference even after controlling for maternal BMI and education level, sex of child, height-for-age at 8 years, consumption of “fast food” and number of days of active exercise. The association was significant, with some differences, for children in both rural and urban environments.
Rapid weight gain in infancy and in early childhood in Peru is associated with overweight and obesity at age 8 years even when considering other determinants of childhood obesity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40608-016-0135-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5155392  PMID: 27999679
Early rapid weight gain; Infancy; Overweight and obesity; Peru; Childhood
12.  Preterm infant linear growth and adiposity gain: tradeoffs for later weight status, and IQ 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(6):10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.06.032.
Among preterm infants, to examine tradeoffs between cognitive outcome and overweight/obesity at school age and in young adulthood in relation to infancy weight gain and linear growth.
Study design
We studied 945 participants in the Infant Health and Development Program, an 8-center study of preterm (≤37 weeks), low birth weight (≤2500 grams) infants from birth to 18 years. Adjusting for maternal and child factors in logistic regression, we estimated the odds of overweight/obesity (BMI ≥85th percentile at age 8 or ≥25 kg/m2 at age 18) and in separate models, low IQ (<85) per z-score change in infant length and BMI from term to 4 months, 4-12 months, and 12-18 months.
More rapid linear growth from term to 4 months was associated with lower odds of IQ<85 at age 8 (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.70, 0.96), but a higher odds of overweight/obesity (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.05, 1.53). More rapid BMI gain in all 3 infant time intervals was also associated with a higher odds of overweight/obesity, and from 4-12 months with a lower odds of IQ <85 at age 8. Results at age 18 were similar.
In preterm, low birth weight infants born in the 1980’s, faster linear growth soon after term was associated with better cognition but also with a higher risk of overweight/obesity at 8 and 18 years of age. BMI gain over the entire 18 months after term was associated with later risk of overweight/obesity, with less evidence for a benefit to IQ.
PMCID: PMC3834090  PMID: 23910982
13.  Associations of Infant Feeding and Timing of Weight Gain and Linear Growth during Early Life with Childhood Blood Pressure: Findings from a Prospective Population Based Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(11):e0166281.
Small birth size and rapid postnatal growth have been associated with higher future blood pressure. The timing of these effects, the relative importance of weight gain and linear growth and the role of infant feeding need to be clarified.
We assessed how blood pressure relates to birth weight, infant and childhood growth and infant feeding (duration of exclusive breastfeeding and timing of introduction of complementary feeding) in 2227 children aged 5 years from a prospective cohort study (Amsterdam Born Children and their Development). Postnatal growth was represented by statistically independent measures of relative weight gain (weight gain independent of height) and linear growth in four age periods during infancy (0–1 month; 1–3 months; 3–6 months; 6–12 months) and from 12 months to 5 years.
Lower birth weight was associated with higher childhood diastolic blood pressure (-0.38 mm Hg.SD-1; P = 0.007). Faster relative weight gain and linear growth after 1 month were positively associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Associations of linear growth with systolic blood pressure ranged from 0.47 to 1.49 mm Hg.SD-1; P<0.01 for all. Coefficients were similar for different periods of infancy and also for relative weight gain and linear growth. Compared to breastfeeding <1 month, breastfeeding >1 month was associated with lower blood pressure (e.g. >6 months -1.56 mm Hg systolic blood pressure; P<0.001). Compared to >6 months, introduction of complementary feeding <6 months was associated with higher blood pressure (e.g. 4–6 months 0.91 mm Hg systolic blood pressure; P = 0.004).
After the age of one month faster growth in either weight or height is associated with higher childhood blood pressure. It is unknown whether faster weight gain and linear growth carry the same risk for adult hypertension and cardiovascular morbidity. Longer breastfeeding and delayed introduction of complementary feeding may be associated with lower adult blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC5104398  PMID: 27832113
14.  The association of birth weight and postnatal growth with energy intake and eating behavior at 5 years of age – a birth cohort study 
Low and high birth weight and accelerated postnatal weight gain are associated with an increased risk of obesity. Perinatal effects on energy intake and eating behavior have been proposed as underlying mechanisms. This study aimed to examine the independent associations of birth weight and postnatal weight and height gain with childhood energy intake and satiety response.
In a birth cohort study, we used data from 2227 children (52 % male), mean age 5.6 (±0.4) years. Mean daily energy intake and satiety response were parent-reported through validated questionnaires. Exposures were birth weight z-score and conditional weight and height gain between 0–1, 1–3, 3–6, 6–12 months and 12 months to 5 years. Conditional weight and height are residuals of current weight and height regressed on prior growth data, to represent deviations from expected growth. Analyses were adjusted for a set of potential confounding variables.
Conditional weight gain between 1–3, 3–6 months and 12 months to 5 years was significantly associated with energy intake, with 29.7 (95 %-CI: 4.6; 54.8), 24.0 (1.8; 46.1) and 79.5 (29.4; 129.7) kcal/day more intake for each Z-score conditional weight gain between 1–3, 3–6 months and 12 months to 5 years, respectively. Conditional height gain between 0–1, 1–3 months and 12 months to 5 years was negatively associated with energy intake (β: −42.0 [66.6; –17.4] for 0–1 months, −35.1 [−58.4; −11.8] for 1–3 months and −37.4 [−72.4; −2.3] for 12 months to 5 years). Conditional weight gain in all periods was negatively associated with satiety response, with effect sizes from − 0.03 (−0.06; −0.002) in early infancy to −0.12 (−0.19; −0.06) in childhood. Birth weight was not associated with energy intake or satiety response.
Our findings suggest that accelerated infant and childhood weight gain are associated with increased energy intake and diminished satiety response at 5 years. Accelerated height gain seems to be beneficial for childhood energy intake. This perinatal ‘programming’ of energy intake and eating behavior provide a potential mechanism linking early life influences with later obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-016-0335-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4743237  PMID: 26847088
Birth weight; Postnatal growth; Developmental origins of health and disease; Childhood obesity; Energy intake; Eating behavior
15.  Relationship of weight gain in infancy to subcutaneous fat and relative weight at 10 1/2 years of age. 
In a representative sample of 895 schoolchildren, aged between 9 years 10 months and 11 years 2 months, the risk of being overweight or obese was compared between those who had gained weight rapidly during infancy and those whose weight gain had been normal. A substantially increased risk ratio was found only in boys for whom a correlation analysis showed that the total weight gain during the first year of life was associated with the total body mass in relation to height, more or less independently of the degree of fatness at 10 1/2 years of age. In girls, a direct but very weak association was found between weight gain in infancy and the degree of fatness at 10 1/2 years. The implications of these findings with respect to aetiology and the possibilities of prevention are briefly discussed.
PMCID: PMC478973  PMID: 1009275
16.  Adipose and Height Growth Through Childhood and Blood Pressure Status in a Large Prospective Cohort Study 
Hypertension  2012;59(5):919-925.
Raised blood pressure (BP) is the world’s leading mortality risk factor. Childhood BP substantially predicts adult levels, and although both prenatal and postnatal growth influence it, their relative importance is debated. In a longitudinal study (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) of 12 962 healthy children, we aimed to assess the relative contribution of different growth periods and of standardized measures of height versus weight-for-height (an adiposity marker) to BP at age 10 years. Conditional growth modeling was used in the 3230 boys and 3346 girls with BP measurements. Systolic BP was inversely associated with birth weight and weight-for-height but not length (−0.33, −0.27, and −0.12 mm Hg · SD−1; P=0.003, 0.035, and 0.35, respectively). In infancy, weight, weight-for-height, and height gains were all positively associated with systolic BP (0.90, 0.41, and 0.82 mm Hg · SD−1, respectively; all P<0.001). After infancy, all of the growth modalities were positively associated with systolic BP (weight, 1.91; weight-for-height, 1.56; height, 1.20 mm Hg · SD−1; all P<0.001). Similar but weaker associations were found with diastolic BP. Although BP at 10 years was associated with both prenatal and early postnatal growth, their influence was small compared with that of later growth. Because BP ranking relative to the population is substantially determined in the first decade of life, a focus on strategies to reduce the development of adiposity from infancy onward, rather than an emphasis on the nutrition and weight of mothers and infants, should bring greater reductions in population BP.
PMCID: PMC3428923  PMID: 22493074
blood pressure; childhood growth; hypertension; obesity; population
17.  Preventing Weight Gain in Women in Rural Communities: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(1):e1001941.
Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in both developed and developing countries. Even modest weight gain increases the risk for chronic illness, yet evidence-based interventions to prevent weight gain are rare. This trial will determine if a simple low-intensity intervention can prevent weight gain in women compared to general health information.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a 1-yr pragmatic, cluster randomised controlled trial in 41 Australian towns (clusters) randomised using a computer-generated randomisation list for intervention (n = 21) or control (n = 20). Women aged 18 to 50 yr were recruited from the general population to receive a 1-yr self-management lifestyle intervention (HeLP-her) consisting of one group session, monthly SMS text messages, one phone coaching session, and a program manual, or to a control group receiving one general women’s health education session. From October 2012 to April 2014 we studied 649 women, mean age 39.6 yr (+/− SD 6.7) and BMI of 28.8 kg/m2 (+/− SD 6.9) with the primary outcome weight change between groups at 1 yr. The mean change in the control was +0.44 kg (95% CI −0.09 to 0.97) and in the intervention group −0.48kg (95% CI −0.99 to 0.03) with an unadjusted between group difference of −0.92 kg (95% CI −1.67 to −0.16) or −0.87 kg (95% CI −1.62 to −0.13) adjusted for baseline values and clustering. Secondary outcomes included improved diet quality and greater self-management behaviours. The intervention appeared to be equally efficacious across all age, BMI, income, and education subgroups. Loss to follow-up included 23.8% in the intervention group and 21.8% in the control group and was within the anticipated range. Limitations include lack of sensitive tools to measure the small changes to energy intake and physical activity. Those who gained weight may have been less inclined to return for 1 yr weight measures.
A low intensity lifestyle program can prevent the persistent weight gain observed in women. Key features included community integration, nonprescriptive simple health messages, small changes to behaviour, low participant burden, self-weighing, and delivery including a mix of group, phone, and SMS text reminders. The findings support population strategies to halt the rise in obesity prevalence.
In a pragmatic, cluster-randomised controlled trial, Catherine Lombard and colleagues assess the value of a self-management lifestyle intervention to prevent weight gain among women living in rural Australia.
Editors' Summary
Obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat—is a global public health problem. In the US, for example, more than one-third of adults are obese and another third are overweight. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI; an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of equal to or more than 30 kg/m2; overweight individuals have a BMI of 25.0–29.9 kg/m2. Increased body fat is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.. People gain body fat by consuming food and drink that contains more energy (calories) than they need for their daily activities. So excess body fat can be prevented and reversed by eating a diet that contains fewer calories and by being more active.
Why Was This Study Done?
BMI increases with age in most adults although in recent years young adults have been shown to be gaining body fat faster than older adults. However, the adult weight gain per year is generally less than 1 kg and could be prevented by encouraging people to eat just a little less and exercise just a little more. Prevention of weight gain is likely to be easier than reversal of established obesity, but few interventions designed to prevent weight gain have been rigorously tested. In this pragmatic randomized controlled trial, the researchers investigate whether a simple low-intensity intervention can prevent weight gain among 18–50-year-old women living in rural communities in Australia. Rates of obesity are generally higher among women than men and, in affluent countries, rural-dwelling women have higher rates of weight gain and obesity than urban-dwelling women—in Australia, young women living in rural and metropolitan areas gain an average of 700 g and 550 g per year, respectively. A pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial randomly assigns groups of people (here, women living in different towns) to receive alternative interventions and compares outcomes in the differently treated “clusters” under real-life conditions.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned 41 Australian towns to receive a 1 yr self-management lifestyle intervention (HeLP-her) or to act as controls. The intervention consisted of one group session during which facilitators delivered general health information and five simple health messages (for example, try to eat two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables a day), a program manual to help participants develop a personalized weight gain prevention strategy, monthly text message to remind participants of key behaviors for weight gain prevention, and a 20-min personal phone coaching session delivered three months into the trial. Participants in the control clusters received a group education session on general women’s health topics at the start of the trial. In total, 649 women with an average baseline BMI of 28.2kg/m2 participated in the trial. After one year, the average weight change was +0.44 kg in the control arm of the trial and −0.48 kg in the intervention arm (a between group difference in weight change of −0.92 kg). The intervention also improved diet quality and self-management behavior and was equally efficacious across all age, BMI, income, and education subgroups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a low-intensity lifestyle program can prevent persistent weight gain among women. Specifically, the year-long HeLP-her intervention prevented a weight gain of nearly 1 kg on average among women living in rural Australia. Notably, a recent modeling study estimated that a 1 kg weight loss, if applied across the US population, could avoid 2 million cases of diabetes, 1.5 million cases of cardiovascular disease, and more than 73,000 cases of cancer. Although it is difficult to identify the successful elements of any intervention that targets multiple behaviors, key components of the HeLP-her intervention probably include the use of simple, non-prescriptive health messages, the focus on small behavioral changes, regular self-weighing, and the use of both personal and electronic means to deliver the intervention. Some aspects of this trial (for example, nearly a quarter of the participants did not complete the trial) may affect the accuracy of its findings and a longer follow-up is needed to determine the long-term effects of the intervention. Nevertheless, these findings provide new information on effective weight gain prevention strategies that align with current clinical guidelines and population strategies designed to halt the global rise in obesity.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The Global Burden of Disease website provides the latest details about global obesity trends; the International Obesity Taskforce also provides information about the global obesity epidemic
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about obesity (including some real stories), healthy eating, exercising
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of overweight and obesity is a resource provided by the US Department of Agriculture that provides individuals and health care professionals with user-friendly information on nutritional and physical exercise
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on weight control and healthy living
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on obesity (in English and Spanish)
More information about obesity in Australia, this trial, and the HeLP-her intervention is available
PMCID: PMC4718637  PMID: 26785406
18.  Associations between Infant Feeding Practice Prior to Six Months and Body Mass Index at Six Years of Age 
Nutrients  2014;6(4):1608-1617.
Rapid growth during infancy is associated with increased risk of overweight and obesity and differences in weight gain are at least partly explained by means of infant feeding. The aim was to assess the associations between infant feeding practice in early infancy and body mass index (BMI) at 6 years of age. Icelandic infants (n = 154) were prospectively followed from birth to 12 months and again at age 6 years. Birth weight and length were gathered from maternity wards, and healthcare centers provided the measurements made during infancy up to 18 months of age. Information on breastfeeding practices was documented 0–12 months and a 24-h dietary record was collected at 5 months. Changes in infant weight gain were calculated from birth to 18 months. Linear regression analyses were performed to examine associations between infant feeding practice at 5 months and body mass index (BMI) at 6 years. Infants who were formula-fed at 5 months of age grew faster, particularly between 2 and 6 months, compared to exclusively breastfed infants. At age 6 years, BMI was on average 1.1 kg/m2 (95% CI 0.2, 2.0) higher among infants who were formula fed and also receiving solid foods at 5 months of age compared to those exclusively breastfed. In a high-income country such as Iceland, early introduction of solid foods seems to further increase the risk of high childhood BMI among formula fed infants compared with exclusively breastfed infants, although further studies with greater power are needed.
PMCID: PMC4011054  PMID: 24747694
MeSH terms; growth; infant; breastfeeding; weaning; overweight; child
19.  Postnatal Growth Velocity and Overweight in Early Adolescents: A Comparison of Rural and Urban African Boys and Girls 
American Journal of Human Biology  2014;26(5):643-651.
To compare growth velocity of two African child cohorts and examine the relationship between postnatal growth velocity in infancy/early childhood and the risk of overweight/stunting in early adolescence.
The study used data from two child cohorts from urban (Birth to Twenty Cohort, South Africa) and rural (Lungwena Child Survival Study, Malawi) African settings. Mixed effect modelling was used to derive growth and peak growth velocities. T-tests were used to compare growth parameters and velocities between the two cohorts. Linear and logistic regression models were used to determine the relationship between growth velocity and early adolescent (ages 9–11 years) body mass index and odds of being overweight.
Children in the BH cohort were significantly taller and heavier than those in the Lungwena cohort, and exhibited faster weight and height growth velocity especially in the first year of life (P < 0.05). No significant association was shown between baseline weight (αw) and overweight in early adolescence (OR = 1.25, CI = 0.67, 2.34). The weight growth velocity parameter βw was highly associated with odds of being overweight. Association between overweight in adolescence and weight velocity was stronger in infancy than in early childhood (OR at 3 months = 4.80, CI = 2.49, 9.26; OR at 5 years = 2.39, CI = 1.65, 3.47).
High weight and height growth velocity in infancy, independent of size at birth, is highly associated with overweight in early adolescence. However, the long term effects of rapid growth in infancy may be dependent on a particular population's socio-economic status and level of urbanization. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 26:643–651, 2014. © 2014 The Authors American Journal of Human Biology Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC4329380  PMID: 24948025
20.  Associations of postnatal weight and length/height gain with wheeze, asthma and atopy: The PROBIT Study 
It has been hypothesised that postnatal weight and length/height gain are variously related to wheeze, asthma and atopy, however supporting evidence is limited and inconsistent.
Weights and lengths/heights of 12,171 term-infants were measured from birth to 12 months and at 6.5 years, and extracted from polyclinic records prospectively obtained between 12 and 60 months. Atopic phenotypes were ascertained at 6.5 years with the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood questionnaire and skin-prick tests. Logistic regression models investigated whether rates of weight and length/height gain from infancy to mid-childhood were associated with atopy phenotypes that have occurred ever or in the last 12 months.
After controlling for confounders and prior weight and length/height gain, all weight gain variables except birthweight were positively associated with ever having wheezed (p<0.1). A one SD increase in weight gain rate between 0–3 months was associated with a 12% increase (2%–23%) in allergic rhinitis ever. No other consistent patterns of association were found for weight gain or length/height gain rate between 0–60 months with atopic outcomes at 6.5 years. In contrast, all atopy outcomes except for ever having asthma were associated with current weight and height, even after controlling for prior growth.
Current height and weight are more strongly associated with the development of atopic phenotypes in childhood than patterns of infant and early childhood growth, which may well reflect reverse causality (atopy effects on growth) or residual confounding by an unknown common cause of growth and atopy.
PMCID: PMC3711479  PMID: 23374010
wheeze; asthma; atopy; postnatal growth; weight gain; length gain
21.  Prevalence and Risk Factors of Overweight and Obesity among Children Aged 6–59 Months in Cameroon: A Multistage, Stratified Cluster Sampling Nationwide Survey 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0143215.
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The prevalence of overweight and obesity among children (<5 years) in Cameroon, based on weight-for-height index, has doubled between 1991 and 2006. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and risk factors of overweight and obesity among children aged 6 months to 5 years in Cameroon in 2011.
Four thousand five hundred and eighteen children (2205 boys and 2313 girls) aged between 6 to 59 months were sampled in the 2011 Demographic Health Survey (DHS) database. Body Mass Index (BMI) z-scores based on WHO 2006 reference population was chosen to estimate overweight (BMI z-score > 2) and obesity (BMI for age > 3). Regression analyses were performed to investigate risk factors of overweight/obesity.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity was 8% (1.7% for obesity alone). Boys were more affected by overweight than girls with a prevalence of 9.7% and 6.4% respectively. The highest prevalence of overweight was observed in the Grassfield area (including people living in West and North-West regions) (15.3%). Factors that were independently associated with overweight and obesity included: having overweight mother (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.51; 95% CI 1.15 to 1.97) and obese mother (aOR = 2.19; 95% CI = 155 to 3.07), compared to having normal weight mother; high birth weight (aOR = 1.69; 95% CI 1.24 to 2.28) compared to normal birth weight; male gender (aOR = 1.56; 95% CI 1.24 to 1.95); low birth rank (aOR = 1.35; 95% CI 1.06 to 1.72); being aged between 13–24 months (aOR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.21 to 2.66) and 25–36 months (aOR = 2.79; 95% CI 1.93 to 4.13) compared to being aged 45 to 49 months; living in the grassfield area (aOR = 2.65; 95% CI = 1.87 to 3.79) compared to living in Forest area. Muslim appeared as a protective factor (aOR = 0.67; 95% CI 0.46 to 0.95).compared to Christian religion.
This study underlines a high prevalence of early childhood overweight with significant disparities between ecological areas of Cameroon. Risk factors of overweight included high maternal BMI, high birth weight, male gender, low birth rank, aged between 13–36 months, and living in the Grassfield area while being Muslim appeared as a protective factor. Preventive strategies should be strengthened especially in Grassfield areas and should focus on sensitization campaigns to reduce overweight and obesity in mothers and on reinforcement of measures such as surveillance of weight gain during antenatal consultation and clinical follow-up of children with high birth weight. Meanwhile, further studies including nutritional characteristics are of great interest to understand the association with religion, child age and ecological area in this age group, and will help in refining preventive strategies against childhood overweight and obesity in Cameroon.
PMCID: PMC4670227  PMID: 26636970
22.  Development of a New Growth Standard for Breastfed Chinese Infants: What Is the Difference from the WHO Growth Standards? 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(12):e0167816.
The objectives of this longitudinal study were to examine the trajectory of breastfed infants’ growth in China to update growth standards for early childhood, and to compare these updated Chinese growth standards with the growth standards recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2006.This longitudinal cohort study enrolled 1,840 healthy breastfed infants living in an "optimal" environment favorable to growth and followed up until one year of age from 2007 to 2010. The study subjects were recruited from 60 communities in twelve cities in China. A participating infant’s birth weight was measured within the first hour of the infant’s life, and birth length and head circumference within 24 hours after birth. Repeated weekly and monthly anthropometric measurements were also taken. Multilevel (ML) modelling via MLwiN2.25 was fitted to estimate the growth curves of weight-for-age (WFA), length-for-age (LFA), and head circumference-for-age (HFA) for the study sample as a whole and by child sex, controlling for mode of delivery, the gravidity and parity of the mother, infant’s physical measurements at birth, infant’s daily food intaking frequency per day, infant’s medical conditions, the season when the infant’s physical measurement was taken, parents’ ages, heights, and attained education, and family structure and income per month. During the first four weeks after birth, breastfed infants showed an increase in weight, length, and head circumference of 1110g, 4.9 cm, and 3.2 cm, respectively, among boys, and 980 g, 4.4 cm, and 2.8 cm, respectively, among girls. Throughout infancy, the total growth for these three was 6930 g, 26.4 cm, and 12.5 cm, respectively, among boys, and 6480 g, 25.5 cm, and 11.7 cm, respectively, among girls. As expected, there was a significant sex difference in growth during the first year. In comparison with the WHO growth standards, breastfed children in our study were heavier in weight, longer in length, and bigger in head circumference, with the exception of a few age points during the first two to four months on the upper two percentile curves.Our data suggested the growth curves for breastfed infants in China were significantly different in comparison with those based on the WHO standards. The adoption of the WHO infant growth standards among Chinese infants, as well as the methods used in the development of such growth standards in China, need careful and coordinated consideration.
PMCID: PMC5158189  PMID: 27977706
23.  Birth weight and growth from infancy to late adolescence in relation to fat and lean mass in early old age: findings from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development 
High birth weight and greater weight gain in infancy have been associated with increased risk of obesity as assessed using body mass index, but few studies have examined associations with direct measures of fat and lean mass. This study examined associations of birth weight and weight and height gain in infancy, childhood and adolescence with fat and lean mass in early old age.
A total of 746 men and 812 women in England, Scotland and Wales from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development whose heights and weights had been prospectively ascertained across childhood and adolescence and who had dual energy X-ray absorptiometry measures at age 60–64 years.
Associations of birth weight and standardised weight and height (0–2 (weight only), 2–4, 4–7, 7–11, 11–15, 15–20 years) gain velocities with outcome measures were examined.
Higher birth weight was associated with higher lean mass and lower android/gynoid ratio at age 60–64 years. For example, the mean difference in lean mass per 1 standard deviation increase in birth weight was 1.54 kg in males (95% confidence interval=1.04, 2.03) and 0.78 kg in females (0.41, 1.14). Greater weight gain in infancy was associated with higher lean mass, whereas greater gains in weight in later childhood and adolescence were associated with higher fat and lean mass, and fat/lean and android/gynoid ratios. Across growth intervals greater height gain was associated with higher lean but not fat mass, and with lower fat/lean and android/gynoid ratios.
Findings suggest that growth in early life may have lasting effects on fat and lean mass. Greater weight gain before birth and in infancy may be beneficial by leading to higher lean mass, whereas greater weight gain in later childhood and adolescence may be detrimental by leading to higher fat/lean and android/gynoid ratios.
PMCID: PMC3884138  PMID: 23779050
abdominal obesity; growth; birth weight; body composition; muscle mass
24.  Determinants of rapid weight gain during infancy: baseline results from the NOURISH randomised controlled trial 
BMC Pediatrics  2011;11:99.
Rapid weight gain in infancy is an important predictor of obesity in later childhood. Our aim was to determine which modifiable variables are associated with rapid weight gain in early life.
Subjects were healthy infants enrolled in NOURISH, a randomised, controlled trial evaluating an intervention to promote positive early feeding practices. This analysis used the birth and baseline data for NOURISH. Birthweight was collected from hospital records and infants were also weighed at baseline assessment when they were aged 4-7 months and before randomisation. Infant feeding practices and demographic variables were collected from the mother using a self administered questionnaire. Rapid weight gain was defined as an increase in weight-for-age Z-score (using WHO standards) above 0.67 SD from birth to baseline assessment, which is interpreted clinically as crossing centile lines on a growth chart. Variables associated with rapid weight gain were evaluated using a multivariable logistic regression model.
Complete data were available for 612 infants (88% of the total sample recruited) with a mean (SD) age of 4.3 (1.0) months at baseline assessment. After adjusting for mother's age, smoking in pregnancy, BMI, and education and infant birthweight, age, gender and introduction of solid foods, the only two modifiable factors associated with rapid weight gain to attain statistical significance were formula feeding [OR = 1.72 (95%CI 1.01-2.94), P = 0.047] and feeding on schedule [OR = 2.29 (95%CI 1.14-4.61), P = 0.020]. Male gender and lower birthweight were non-modifiable factors associated with rapid weight gain.
This analysis supports the contention that there is an association between formula feeding, feeding to schedule and weight gain in the first months of life. Mechanisms may include the actual content of formula milk (e.g. higher protein intake) or differences in feeding styles, such as feeding to schedule, which increase the risk of overfeeding.
Trial Registration
Australian Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000056392
PMCID: PMC3226648  PMID: 22054415
25.  Childhood Asthma and Extreme Values of Body Mass Index: The Harlem Children’s Zone Asthma Initiative 
To examine the association between body mass index (BMI) percentile and asthma in children 2–11 years of age, we performed a cross-sectional analysis of 853 Black and Hispanic children from a community-based sample of 2- to 11-year olds with measured heights and weights screened for asthma by the Harlem Children’s Zone Asthma Initiative. Current asthma was defined as parent/guardian-reported diagnosis of asthma and asthma-related symptoms or emergency care in the previous 12 months. Among girls, asthma prevalence increased approximately linearly with increasing body mass index (BMI) percentile, from a low of 12.0% among underweight girls (BMI ≤5th percentile) to a high of 33.3% among girls at risk for overweight (BMI 85th–94th percentile). Among boys, asthma prevalence was associated in a U-shaped curve with the extremes of BMI percentile, that is, 36.4% among underweight boys, 19.1% among normal weight boys (BMI 6th–84th percentile), and 34.8% among overweight boys (>95th percentile). After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and household smoking, among girls, having asthma was associated with being at risk for overweight (odds ratio [OR], 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4–5.0) and being overweight (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.2–3.8) compared to normal weight; among boys, having asthma was associated both with overweight (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.4–4.3) and with underweight (OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.1–7.7). Large, prospective studies that include very young children are needed to further explore the observed association between underweight and asthma among boys. Early interventions that concomitantly address asthma and weight gain are needed among pre-school and school-aged children.
PMCID: PMC2527185  PMID: 16739045
Asthma; Children; Epidemiology; Gender; Obesity

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