Aims: Suboptimal maternal nutrition and catch-up growth in early childhood predispose to insulin resistance and other components of metabolic syndrome in later life. A central metabolic syndrome (CMS) has been identified comprising obesity, dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance. This study was designed to investigate determinants of risk for CMS.
Methods: Persons born in Newcastle in May and June 1947 (n = 358) were followed to 1996-1998. A lifecourse approach was used to estimate the proportion of variance in a summary measure of CMS at age 49-51 years accounted for by factors operating at different stages of life.
Results: After adjustment for other early life variables, childhood catch-up growth in men accounted for significant variation in the CMS score independent of adult lifestyle. In adulthood, exercise level in men and smoking in both genders were independently associated with CMS. Over two-thirds of explained variation in the CMS score in women, and almost half in men, was accounted for exclusively by factors measured in adulthood.
Conclusions: While risk for CMS in men is compounded by early life disadvantage, promotion of a healthier adult lifestyle and a reduction in the number of people taking up smoking would appear to be the public health interventions most likely to reduce the prevalence of CMS in middle age.