Childhood exposure to parental smoking and life-course overweight and central obesity

Ann Med. 2021 Dec;53(1):208-216. doi: 10.1080/07853890.2020.1853215.


Objective: To evaluate the association between childhood parental smoking exposure and the risk of overweight/obesity from childhood to adulthood.

Methods: This study leverages the data from two longitudinal population based cohort studies, the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study between years 1980-2011/2012 (YFS; N = 2,303; baseline age 3-18 years) and the Special Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project between years 1989-2009/2010 (STRIP; N = 632; baseline age 7 months). Weight, height and waist circumference were measured from childhood to adulthood. Overweight/obesity was defined as body mass index ≥25 kg/m2 in adults and using the Cole criteria in children. Central obesity was defined as waist circumference > 100/90 cm in men/women and as a waist-to-height ratio > 0.50 in children. Statistical analyses were adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic status, smoking, birth weight, parental ages, diet and physical activity.

Results: Childhood parental smoking exposure was associated with increased risk for life-course overweight/obesity (YFS: RR1.13, 95%CI 1.02-1.24; STRIP: RR1.57, 95%CI 1.10-2.26) and central obesity (YFS: RR1.18, 95%CI 1.01-1.38; STRIP: RR1.45, 95%CI 0.98-2.15).

Conclusions: Childhood exposure to parental smoking is associated with increased risk of overweight/obesity over the life-course. KEY MESSAGES Exposure to parental smoking in childhood was associated with increased risk of overweight/obesity, central obesity and adiposity measured by skinfold thickness from childhood to adulthood.

Keywords: Smoking exposure; central obesity; overweight; parental.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / etiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Parents
  • Paternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution

Grant support

No industry sponsored this work. The YFS has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland: grants 322098, 286284, 134309 (Eye), 126925, 121584, 124282, 129378 (Salve), 117787 (Gendi), and 41071 (Skidi); the Social Insurance Institution of Finland; Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility area of Kuopio, Tampere and Turku University Hospitals [grant X51001]; Juho Vainio Foundation; Paavo Nurmi Foundation; Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research; Finnish Cultural Foundation; The Sigrid Juselius Foundation; Tampere Tuberculosis Foundation; Emil Aaltonen Foundation; YrjöJahnsson Foundation; Signe and AneGyllenberg Foundation; Diabetes Research Foundation of Finnish Diabetes Association; EU Horizon 2020 [grant 755320 for TAXINOMISIS]; European Research Council [grant 742927 for MULTIEPIGEN project]; and Tampere University Hospital Supporting Foundation. The STRIP study has been financially supported by the Academy of Finland [grants 206374, 294834, 251360, and 275595], the Juho Vainio Foundation, the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Special Governmental grants for Health Sciences Research (Turku University Hospital), the YrjöJahnsson Foundation, and the Turku University Foundation.