Risk Factors for Childhood Obesity in the First 1,000 Days: A Systematic Review

Am J Prev Med. 2016 Jun;50(6):761-779. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.11.012. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Context: Mounting evidence suggests that the origins of childhood obesity and related disparities can be found as early as the "first 1,000 days"-the period from conception to age 2 years. The main goal of this study is to systematically review existing evidence for modifiable childhood obesity risk factors present from conception to age 2 years.

Evidence acquisition: PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science were searched for studies published between January 1, 1980, and December 12, 2014, of childhood obesity risk factors present during the first 1,000 days. Prospective, original human subject, English-language research with exposure occurrence during the first 1,000 days and with the outcome of childhood overweight or obesity (BMI ≥85th percentile for age and sex) collected between age 6 months and 18 years were analyzed between December 13, 2014, and March 15, 2015.

Evidence synthesis: Of 5,952 identified citations, 282 studies met inclusion criteria. Several risk factors during the first 1,000 days were consistently associated with later childhood obesity. These included higher maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, prenatal tobacco exposure, maternal excess gestational weight gain, high infant birth weight, and accelerated infant weight gain. Fewer studies also supported gestational diabetes, child care attendance, low strength of maternal-infant relationship, low SES, curtailed infant sleep, inappropriate bottle use, introduction of solid food intake before age 4 months, and infant antibiotic exposure as risk factors for childhood obesity.

Conclusions: Modifiable risk factors in the first 1,000 days can inform future research and policy priorities and intervention efforts to prevent childhood obesity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain / physiology*