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Size in early life is related to adult body mass index, and early environmental influences have been proposed to have lifelong consequences for obesity. However, body mass index also reflects fat-free mass, and few studies have examined the relation between size in early life and direct measures of body composition in older people.We investigated the associations of birth weight and weight at 1 y of age with body composition in older men.We carried out a retrospective cohort study in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Men who were born between 1931 and 1939 and for whom there were records of birth weight and weight at 1 y of age (n = 737) participated in the study. The main outcome measures were adult body mass index, fat-free mass, and fat mass.Birth weight was significantly and consistently positively associated with adult body mass index and fat-free mass but not with measures of adult fat mass. In contrast, weight at 1 y of age was associated with adult body mass index, fat-free mass, and fat mass.The consistently reported positive relation between birth weight and adult body mass index may reflect prenatal and maternal influences on fat-free mass rather than on fat mass in older people. The postnatal environment may be more influential than prenatal factors in the development of obesity in later life.

Type

Journal article

Journal

The American journal of clinical nutrition

Publication Date

07/2004

Volume

80

Pages

199 - 203

Addresses

Medical Research Council Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southamption, United Kingdom. aas@mrc.soton.ac.uk

Keywords

Adipose Tissue, Humans, Obesity, Body Weight, Birth Weight, Body Mass Index, Retrospective Studies, Cohort Studies, Longitudinal Studies, Body Composition, Middle Aged, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, United Kingdom