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.