Early life course risk factors for childhood obesity: The IDEFICS case-control study

Karin Bammann, Jenny Peplies, Stefaan De Henauw, Monica Hunsberger, Denes Molnar, Luis A. Moreno, Michael Tornaritis, Toomas Veidebaum, Wolfgang Ahrens, Alfonso Siani

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Background: The early life course is assumed to be a critical phase for childhood obesity; however the significance of single factors and their interplay is not well studied in childhood populations. Objectives: The investigation of pre-, peri- and postpartum risk factors on the risk of obesity at age 2 to 9. Methods: A case-control study with 1,024 1:1-matched case-control pairs was nested in the baseline survey (09/2007-05/2008) of the IDEFICS study, a population-based intervention study on childhood obesity carried out in 8 European countries in pre- and primary school settings. Conditional logistic regression was used for identification of risk factors. Results: For many of the investigated risk factors, we found a raw effect in our study. In multivariate models, we could establish an effect for gestational weight gain (adjusted OR = 1.02; 95%CI 1.00-1.04), smoking during pregnancy (adjusted OR = 1.48; 95%CI 1.08-2.01), Caesarian section (adjusted OR = 1.38; 95%CI 1.10-1.74), and breastfeeding 4 to 11 months (adjusted OR = 0.77; 95%CI 0.62-0.96). Birth weight was related to lean mass rather than to fat mass, the effect of smoking was found only in boys, but not in girls. After additional adjustment for parental BMI and parental educational status, only gestational weight gain remained statistically significant. Both, maternal as well as paternal BMI were the strongest risk factors in our study, and they confounded several of the investigated associations. Conclusions: Key risk factors of childhood obesity in our study are parental BMI and gestational weight gain; consequently prevention approaches should target not only children but also adults. The monitoring of gestational weight seems to be of particular importance for early prevention of childhood obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86914
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 13 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Bammann, K., Peplies, J., De Henauw, S., Hunsberger, M., Molnar, D., Moreno, L. A., Tornaritis, M., Veidebaum, T., Ahrens, W., & Siani, A. (2014). Early life course risk factors for childhood obesity: The IDEFICS case-control study. PloS one, 9(2), [e86914]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086914