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J Nutr. 2002 Aug;132(8):2208-14.

Cardiovascular disease risk factors are related to adult adiposity but not birth weight in young guatemalan adults.

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  • 1Department of International Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta GA 30322, USA.


Fetal undernutrition has been hypothesized to program inappropriate metabolic responses to nutritional abundance in later life. Most studies have been conducted in industrialized countries. We studied the relationship between birth weight and risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) among 187 men and 198 women age 20-29 y (mean age 24 y) who had participated in a longitudinal study conducted in Guatemala between 1969 and 1977. In women, birth weight was positively associated with adult body mass index (BMI; P < 0.01), systolic (P < 0.001) and diastolic blood pressure (P < 0.05), but not with glucose or any lipid measure. In men, birth weight was not associated with adult BMI, blood pressure or glucose, and was weakly and inversely related to total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (test for trend: P = 0.06 and P = 0.09, respectively). Adult BMI was associated with increased prevalence of CVD risk factors in both men and women. Our data offer no support for the fetal programming of cardiovascular disease risk hypothesis in young adult women, and weak support in young adult men. Overweight in adults is a strong determinant of variance in CVD risk factor prevalence.

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