To what extent do weight gain and eating avidity during infancy predict later adiposity?

Public Health Nutr. 2012 Apr;15(4):656-62. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011002096. Epub 2011 Oct 18.


Objective: To determine the extent to which weight gain and eating behaviours in infancy predict later adiposity.

Design: Population-based, prospective, longitudinal birth cohort study. Weights collected in infancy were used to calculate Z-scores for weight gain to age 1 year conditional on birth weight (CWG). To avoid multiple significance tests, variables from the parent questionnaire completed at age 1 year describing eating avidity were combined using general linear modelling to create an infancy avidity score. Anthropometry, skinfold thicknesses and bioelectrical impedance data collected at age 7-8 years were combined using factor analysis, to create an adiposity index.

Setting: Gateshead, UK.

Subjects: Members of the Gateshead Millennium Study cohort with data at both time points (n 561).

Results: CWG in infancy significantly predicted adiposity at age 7 years, but related more strongly to length and lean mass. High adiposity (> 90th internal percentile) at age 7 years was significantly associated with high CWG (relative risk 2·76; 95% CI 1·5, 5·1) in infancy, but less so with raised (> 74th internal percentile) eating avidity in infancy (relative risk 1·87; 95% CI 0·9, 3·7). However, the majority of children with high weight gain (77·6%) or avidity (85·5%) in infancy did not go on to have high adiposity at age 7 years.

Conclusions: Rapid weight gain in infancy and the eating behaviours which relate to it do predict later adiposity, but are more strongly predictive of later stature and lean mass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Anthropometry*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Gain / physiology*