Size at birth, infant, early and later childhood growth and adult body composition: a prospective study in a stunted population.Int J Epidemiol 2007; 36(3):550-7IJ
Pre-natal and post-natal growth are associated with adult body composition, but the relative importance of growth in different periods of childhood is still unclear, particularly in stunted populations.
We studied 358 women and 352 men measured as children in 1969-77 in four villages in Guatemala, and re-measured as adults in 2002-04 (mean age 32.7 years). We determined the associations of body mass index (BMI) and length at birth, and changes in BMI and length during infancy (0-1.0 year) and early (1.0-3.0 years) and later (3.0-7.0 years) childhood, with adult BMI ((a)BMI), percentage of body fat ((a)PBF), abdominal circumference ((a)AC) and fat-free mass ((a)FFM).
Prevalence of stunting was high (64% at 3 years; HAZ < -2SD). Obesity (WHZ > 2SD) prevalence in childhood was <2%, while overweight prevalence in adulthood was 52%. BMI at birth was positively associated with (a)BMI and (a)FFM while length at birth was positively associated with (a)AC and (a)FFM. Increased BMI in infancy and later childhood were positively associated with all four adult body composition measures; associations in later childhood with fatness and abdominal fatness were stronger than those with (a)FFM. Change in length during infancy and early childhood was positively associated with all four adult body composition outcomes; the associations with (a)FFM were stronger than those with fat mass.
Increases in BMI between 3.0 and 7.0 years had stronger associations with adult fat mass and abdominal fat than with (a)FFM; increases in length prior to age 3.0 years were most strongly associated with increases in (a)FFM.