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Pediatr Obes. 2018 Dec;13(12):778-785. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12290. Epub 2018 May 9.

Childhood central adiposity at ages 5 and 9 shows consistent relationship with that of the maternal grandmother but not other grandparents.

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School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.



The importance of a life course approach to childhood obesity has been emphasized; however, few studies can prospectively investigate relationships in three-generation families.


To prospectively investigate the relationship between grandparental and grandchild waist circumference (WC) at ages 5 and 9 down maternal and paternal lines.


At baseline in the Lifeways Cross-Generation Cohort, 1094 children were born to 1082 mothers; 585 were examined at age 5 and 298 at age 9. Of the total 589 children with measured WC, data were also available from 745 grandparents. Child WC was standardized for age and sex, and theory-based hierarchical linear regression was used.


Maternal grandmother (MGM) WC was predictive of grandchild WC at both time points. At age 5, grandchild's standardized birth weight (B = 0.266, p = 0.001), mother's means tested eligibility for free medical care (B = 1.029, p = 0.001) and grandchild seeing maternal grandparents daily (B = 0.312, p = 0.048) were significant alongside MGM WC (B = 0.015, p = 0.019). At age 9, only MGM WC (B = 0.022, p = 0.033) and mother's WC (B = 0.032, p = 0.005) were significant. Mediation analysis with mother's WC showed significant direct relationship of MGM and grandchild WC.


This prospective cross-generational cohort shows consistent patterns of association between MGM and grandchild WC, not seen in other grandparental lineages.


central adiposity; cross generation; intrauterine; maternal grandmother


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