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Obes Facts. 2012;5(6):881-9. doi: 10.1159/000345933. Epub 2012 Dec 15.

Bereavement in early life and later childhood overweight.

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Section for Epidemiology, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.



The rise in the occurrence of childhood obesity during the last decades in many populations indicates an important role of environmental exposures, which may operate very early in life. We aimed to examine the association between bereavement during the first 6 years of life, as a stress indicator, and subsequent risk of overweight in school-aged children.


We followed 46,401 singletons born in Denmark who underwent annual health examinations at 7-13 years of age in school of Copenhagen. A total of 492 children experienced bereavement by death of a parent during the first 6 years of life. We compared BMI levels, changes in BMI, and the prevalence of overweight at 7-13 years of age between bereaved and non-bereaved children.


Between bereaved children and non-bereaved children, there were no differences in average BMI levels at any age or changes in BMI at 7-13 years of age. Bereavement during the first 6 years of life was not associated with an increased risk of overweight at 7-13 years of age.


This study did not support that stress induced by bereavement during the first 6 years of life has significant influence on overweight in later childhood.

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