To determine differences in dietary intake, resting energy expenditure, activity level, fat-free mass, and percentage body and abdominal fat in nonobese children of obese mothers compared with nonobese children of nonobese mothers.
Cross-sectional comparison study. Children's food diaries were analyzed to determine average energy and nutrient content. Resting energy expenditure of children was measured by means of indirect calorimetry. Children's activity levels were estimated through questionnaires administered during interviews. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to estimate body composition of children.
Mothers of subjects responded to advertisements and were recruited as nonobese (body mass index = 20 to 25) or obese (body mass index > or = 30). Offspring included in the study were prepubertal and nonobese (10th to 90th percentile of weight for height by gender). Twelve pairs of children could be matched for weight, gender, and age.
Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used to determine differences between the 2 groups of children.
Percentage abdominal fat was greater (median difference = 3.15, P = .001) and fat-free mass was lower (median difference = 1.19, P = .04) in children of obese mothers compared with children of nonobese mothers. No statistically significant differences between the 2 groups of children were found for dietary intake, resting energy expenditure, activity level, or percentage body fat.
The significantly higher percentage of abdominal fat and lower fat-free mass in children of obese mothers may contribute to obesity onset. Use of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry as a screening tool for nonobese, prepubertal children with an obese parent will help to identify those at risk. Education and lifestyle changes can then be implemented to help prevent the onset of obesity.