Exposure to famine in early life and the risk of obesity in adulthood in Qingdao: Evidence from the 1959-1961 Chinese famine.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2017; 27(2):154-160NM
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
We aimed to evaluate the association between famine exposure during early life and obesity and obesitymax (obese at the highest weight) in adulthood.
METHODS AND RESULTS
Data were from two population-based cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2006 and 2009 in Qingdao, China. A total of 8185 subjects born between 1/1/1941 and 12/31/1971 were categorized into unexposed (born between 01/01/1962 and 12/31/1971), fetal/infant exposed (born between 01/01/1959 and 12/31/1961), childhood exposed (born between 01/01/1949 and 12/31/1958) and adolescence exposed (born between 01/01/1941 and 12/31/1948) according to their age when exposed to the Chinese famine from 1959 to 1961. Obesity was defined as BMI (body mass index) ≥28.0 and obesitymax was defined as BMImax (BMI at the highest weight) ≥28.0. We compared fetal/infant exposed, childhood exposed and adolescence exposed to the unexposed using logistic regression models to assess the effect of famine exposure on later obesity and obesitymax. Fetal/infant exposed (OR = 1.59, P < 0.001), childhood exposed (OR = 1.42, P < 0.01) and adolescence exposed (OR = 1.86, P < 0.01) all had higher risks of obesity than the unexposed. Exposure groups were more likely to be obese at their highest weight than the unexposed, and ORs (95%CIs) for obesitymax in the fetal/infant exposed, childhood exposed and adolescence exposed were 1.49(1.20-1.86), 1.24(1.02-1.49) and 1.64 (1.40-1.93), respectively. Similar results were found in both men and women.
Exposure to famine in early life was associated with increased risks of obesity and obesitymax in adulthood. Preventing undernutrition in early life appears beneficial to reduce the prevalence of later obesity.