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Early Life Growth Predictors of Childhood Adiposity Trajectories and Future Risk for Obesity: Birth to Twenty Cohort

Munthali, Richard J., Kagura, Juliana, Lombard, Zané, Norris, Shane A.
Childhood obesity 2017 v.13 no.5 pp. 384-391
Africans, adiposity, adolescents, body mass index, boys, childhood, childhood obesity, children, confidence interval, girls, infancy, relative risk, risk assessment, weight gain
Background: There is growing evidence of variations in adiposity trajectories among individuals, but the influence of early life growth patterns on these trajectories is underresearched in low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, our aim was to examine the association between early life conditional weight gain and childhood adiposity trajectories.Methods: We previously identified distinct adiposity trajectories (four for girls and three for boys) in black South African children (boys = 877; girls = 947). The association between the trajectories and early life growth patterns, and future obesity risk was assessed by multivariate linear and multinomial logistic and logistic regressions. Conditional weight gain independent of height was computed for infancy (0–2 years) and early childhood (2–4 years).Results: Conditional weight gain before 5 years of age was significantly associated with early onset of obesity or overweight (excess weight) BMI trajectories in both boys and girls. In girls, greater conditional weight gain in infancy was associated with increased relative risk of being in the early-onset obese to morbid obese trajectory, with relative risk ratios of 2.03 (95% confidence interval: 1.17–3.52) compared to belonging to a BMI trajectory in the normal range. Boys and girls in the early-onset obesity or overweight BMI trajectories were more likely to be overweight or obese in early adulthood.Conclusions: Excessive weight gain in infancy and early childhood, independent of linear growth, predicts childhood and adolescent BMI trajectories toward obesity. These results underscore the importance of early life factors in the development of obesity and other NCDs in later life.