Early individual and family predictors of weight trajectories from early childhood to adolescence: results from the Millennium Cohort Study

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Abstract

Background: Early infancy and childhood are critical periods in the establishment of lifelong weight trajectories. Parents and early family environment have a strong effect on children's health behaviors that track into adolescence, influencing lifelong risk of obesity. Objective: We aimed to identify developmental trajectories of body mass index (BMI) from early childhood to adolescence and to assess their early individual and family predictors. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study and included 17,165 children. Weight trajectories were estimated using growth mixture modeling based on age- and gender-specific BMI Z-scores, followed by a bias-adjusted regression analysis. Results: We found four BMI trajectories: Weight Loss (69%), Early Weight Gain (24%), Early Obesity (3.7%), and Late Weight Gain (3.3%). Weight trajectories were mainly settled by early adolescence. Lack of sleep and eating routines, low emotional self-regulation, child-parent conflict, and low child-parent closeness in early childhood were significantly associated with unhealthy weight trajectories, alongside poverty, low maternal education, maternal obesity, and prematurity. Conclusions: Unhealthy BMI trajectories were defined in early and middle-childhood, and disproportionally affected children from disadvantaged families. This study further points out that household routines, self-regulation, and child-parent relationship are possible areas for family-based obesity prevention interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number417
JournalFrontiers in Pediatrics
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • early childhood
  • family context
  • growth mixture modeling
  • Millennium Cohort Study
  • weight trajectories

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