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Obesity Science & Practice


Background: Parental obesity is a known determinant of childhood obesity. Previous research has shown a strong maternal influence on body mass index (BMI) during infancy and early childhood.

Objectives: The purpose of this research was to investigate the BMI associations between mother and offspring from birth to age 18 years.

Methods: Participants were selected from the Fels Longitudinal Study. The current study sample includes 427 (215 mother/son and 212 mother/daughter) mother/child pairs. These pairs are repeatedly measured at multiple age groups in children, resulting in a total of 6,263 (3,215 mother/son, 3,048 mother/daughter) observations for data analysis. Inclusion criteria were children with measured height and weight for BMI collected at ages 0 to 18 years and their mother with BMI data. Maternal influences of BMI on offspring BMI from birth to early adulthood were analyzed by Spearman correlations and linear regression analyses.

Results: Mother/son BMI correlations became statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05) at age 5–6 years and were significant through puberty and into early adulthood at age 18 years. Mother/daughter correlations became significant at age 1.5 years and also continued through adolescence, puberty and early adulthood at age 18 years. Associations persisted after the study sample was grouped into life stages and adjusted for decade of birth and parity.

Conclusions: The mother/daughter relationship was more strongly correlated than the mother/son relationship and also became statistically significant at an earlier age than boys.

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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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John Wiley & Sons Ltd, World Obesity, and the Obesity Society





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