• Open Access

Early markers of adult obesity: a review

Authors

  • T. D. Brisbois,

    1. Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    • At the time of the research.

  • A. P. Farmer,

    1. Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    2. Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    3. School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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  • L. J. McCargar

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    2. Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
      Dr LJ McCargar, Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition, 4-126 Li Ka Shing Centre, University of Alberta, 87th Ave and 112th St, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E1. E-mail: Linda.McCargar@ualberta.ca
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Dr LJ McCargar, Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition, 4-126 Li Ka Shing Centre, University of Alberta, 87th Ave and 112th St, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E1. E-mail: Linda.McCargar@ualberta.ca

Summary

The purpose of this review was to evaluate factors in early childhood (≤5 years of age) that are the most significant predictors of the development of obesity in adulthood. Factors of interest included exposures/insults in the prenatal period, infancy and early childhood, as well as other socio-demographic variables such as socioeconomic status (SES) or birth place that could impact all three time periods. An extensive electronic and systematic search initially resulted in 8,880 citations, after duplicates were removed. Specific inclusion and exclusion criteria were set, and following two screening processes, 135 studies were retained for detailed abstraction and analysis. A total of 42 variables were associated with obesity in adulthood; however, of these, only seven variables may be considered as potential early markers of obesity based on the reported associations. Possible early markers of obesity included maternal smoking and maternal weight gain during pregnancy. Probable early markers of obesity included maternal body mass index, childhood growth patterns (early rapid growth and early adiposity rebound), childhood obesity and father's employment (a proxy measure for SES in many studies). Health promotion programmes/agencies should consider these factors as reasonable targets to reduce the risk of adult obesity.

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