Stacie S. Swanton



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Introduction: It is reported that two of three American adults are classified as overweight or obese; and one in three of their offspring will become overweight or obese (Sun et al., 2012). Because parental obesity is a risk factor for childhood obesity, children can also be pre-exposed to risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery and cardiovascular diseases. It has been well established that body composition is affected by many variables such as age, sex, race, in addition to the familial environment affects such as diet and exercise habits (Baumgartner et al., 1994). Previous research has shown a stronger maternal than paternal influence on BMI during infancy and early childhood (Magarey et al., 2013). 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, in which information regarding the study has been previously published in great detail (Roche et al., 1992). The current study sample includes 6,263 mother/child pairings (n=3,215 mother/son, n= 3,048 mother/daughter). Inclusion criteria required that mothers be a mean age of 35 ± 5 years, the children be aged from 0-18 years, and have height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) data present. BMI correlations between mothers and offspring were analyzed by Spearman correlations and standardized beta coefficients. Results: BMI correlations for the mother/son relationship became statistically significant (p≤ 0.05) around the boys age 5-6 years and continued through puberty and into early adulthood at age 18 years. The mother/daughter relationship became significant at age 1.5 years for girls and also continued through adolescence, puberty and early adulthood at age 18 years. 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.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Lloyd L. Laubach, Jon K. Linderman

Primary Advisor's Department

Health and Sport Science


Stander Symposium project


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BMI Associations Between Mother and Offspring From Birth to Age 18: The Fels Longitudinal Study