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Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):324-30.

Upward weight percentile crossing in infancy and early childhood independently predicts fat mass in young adults: the Stockholm Weight Development Study (SWEDES).

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  • 1Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Cambridge, United Kingdom. ue202@medschl.cam.ac.uk



Rapid early postnatal weight gain predicts increased subsequent obesity and related disease risks. However, the exact timing of adverse rapid postnatal weight gain is unclear.


The objective was to examine the associations between rapid weight gain in infancy and in early childhood in relation to body composition at age 17 y.


This prospective cohort study was conducted in 248 (103 males) singletons and their mothers. Height and weight were measured at birth, 6 mo, and 3 and 6 y. The rates of weight gain during infancy (0-6 mo) and early childhood (3-6 y) were calculated as changes in sex- and age-adjusted weight SD scores during these time periods. At 17 y, body composition was measured by air-displacement plethysmography.


Increasing weight gain during infancy and early childhood were both independently associated with larger body mass index, fat mass, relative fat mass, fat-free mass, and waist circumference at 17 y (P < 0.005 for all; adjusted for sex, birth weight, gestational age, current height, maternal socioeconomic status, and maternal fat mass). Rapid weight gain in infancy, but not in early childhood, also predicted taller height at 17 y (P < 0.001).


Rapid weight gain in both infancy and early childhood is a risk factor for adult adiposity and obesity. Rapid weight gain in infancy also predicted taller adult height. We hypothesize that rapid weight gains in infancy and early childhood are different processes and may allow separate opportunities for early intervention against obesity risk later in life.

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