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Parental obesity and risk factors for cardiovascular disease among their offspring in mid-life: Findings from the 1958 British birth cohort study

Cooper, R and Pinto Pereira, SM and Power, C and Hyppönen, E (2013) Parental obesity and risk factors for cardiovascular disease among their offspring in mid-life: Findings from the 1958 British birth cohort study. International Journal of Obesity, 37. pp. 1590-1596. ISSN 0307-0565

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Abstract

Background: Few studies have investigated whether parental adiposity is associated with offspring cardiovascular health or the underlying pathways. Studying these associations may help to illuminate the paradox of increasing prevalence of obesity and declining trends in cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, which may be partially explained by beneficial adaptations to an obesogenic environment among people exposed to such environments from younger ages. Objective: To investigate associations between parental body mass index (BMI) and risk factors for CVD among their offspring in mid-life and to test whether associations of offspring BMI with CVD risk factors were modified by parental BMI. Methods: Data from parents and offspring in the 1958 British birth cohort were used (N=9328). Parental BMI was assessed when offspring were aged 11 years; offspring BMI, waist circumference and CVD risk factors (lipid levels, blood pressure, glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and inflammatory and haemostatic markers) were measured at 44–45 years. Results: Higher parental BMI was associated with less favourable levels of offspring risk factors for CVD. Most associations were maintained after adjustment for offspring lifestyle and socioeconomic factors but were largely abolished or reversed after adjustment for offspring adiposity. For some CVD risk factors, there was evidence of effect modification; the association between higher BMI and an adverse lipid profile among offspring was weaker if maternal BMI had been higher. Conversely, offspring BMI was more strongly associated with HbA1c if parental BMI had been higher. Conclusions: Intergenerational influences may be important in conferring the effect of high BMI on CVD risk among offspring.

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