Many studies have identified early-life risk factors for subsequent childhood overweight/obesity, but few have evaluated how they combine to influence risk of childhood overweight/obesity. We examined associations, individually and in combination, of potentially modifiable risk factors in the first 1000 days after conception with childhood adiposity and risk of overweight/obesity in an Asian cohort.
Six risk factors were examined: maternal pre-pregnancy overweight/obesity (body mass index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2), paternal overweight/obesity at 24 months post-delivery, maternal excessive gestational weight gain, raised maternal fasting glucose during pregnancy (≥5.1 mmol/L), breastfeeding duration <4 months and early introduction of solid foods (<4 months). Associations between number of risk factors and adiposity measures [BMI, waist-to-height ratio(WHtR), sum of skinfolds(SSF), fat mass index(FMI) and overweight/obesity] at 48 months were assessed using multivariable regression models.
Of 858 children followed up at 48 months, 172 (19%) had none, 274 (32%) had one, 244 (29%) had two, 126 (15%) had three and 42 (5%) had ≥4 risk factors. Adjusting for confounders, significant graded positive associations were observed between number of risk factors and adiposity outcomes at 48 months. Compared to children with no risk factors, those with 4 or more risk factors had SD-unit increases of 0.78 (95% CI 0.41-1.15) for BMI; 0.79 (0.41-1.16) for WHtR; 0.46 (0.06-0.83) for SSF and 0.67 (0.07-1.27) for FMI. The adjusted relative risk of overweight/obesity in children with four or more risk factors was 11.1(2.5-49.1) compared to children with no risk factors. Children exposed to maternal pre-pregnancy [11.8(9.8-13.8)%] or paternal overweight status [10.6(9.6-11.6)%] had the largest individual predicted probability of child overweight/obesity.
Early-life risk factors added cumulatively to increase childhood adiposity and risk of overweight/obesity. Early-life and preconception intervention programmes which concurrently address these multiple modifiable risk factors may be effective in preventing overweight/obesity.