Prediction of obesity in children at 5 years: a cohort study

J Paediatr Child Health. 1997 Aug;33(4):311-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.1997.tb01607.x.


Objective: To examine determinants of moderate and severe obesity in children at 5 years of age.

Methodology: A prospective cohort of mothers were enrolled at first antenatal visit, and interviewed shortly after delivery, at 6 months and 5 years. Detailed health, psychological and social questionnaires were completed at each phase by mothers, and child health questionnaires at 6 months and 5 years. At 5 years 4062 children were assessed physically, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test administered and mothers completed a modified Child Behaviour Checklist. Moderate obesity was defined as BMI between 85th and 94th percentiles inclusively, and severe obesity as a BMI greater than the 94th percentile.

Results: Independent predictors of severe obesity at 5 years were birthweight, female gender, maternal BMI and paternal BMI. Moderate obesity at 5 years was predicted by birthweight, paternal BMI and sleeplessness at 6 months, while small for gestational age (SGA) status and feeding problems at 6 months were protective factors for moderate obesity. Obesity was not associated with problems of language comprehension or behaviour.

Conclusions: Findings of this study suggest that biological rather than psychosocial factors are the major determinants of obesity at 5 years.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors