Parental midlife body shape and association with multiple adult offspring obesity measures: North West adelaide health study

Janet F. Grant, Catherine R. Chittleborough, Anne Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


There is compelling evidence that parental weight is a strong determinant of offspring weight status. The study used cross-sectional self-reported and measured data from a longitudinal cohort of Australian adults (n = 2128) from Stage 3 (2008-10) of the North West Adelaide Health Study (1999-2003, baseline n = 4056) to investigate the association between midlife parental body shape and four indicators of obesity and fat distribution. The analysis used measured body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), waist hip ratio (WHR) and waist height ratio (WHtR) of adult offspring, together with pictograms for recall of parental body shape. Compared to both parents being a healthy weight, offspring were more likely to be overweight or obese if both parents were an unhealthy weight at age 40 (OR 2.14, 95% CI 1.67-2.76) and further, those participants whose mother was an unhealthy weight were more likely to be overweight or obese themselves (OR 1.50, 95% CI 1.14-1.98). There were similar but lower results for those with an overweight/obese father (OR 1.44, 95% CI1.08-1.93). The effect of one or both parents being overweight or obese tended to be stronger for daughters than for sons across BMI, WC and WHtR. BMI showed the strongest association with parental body shape (OR 2.14), followed by WC (OR 1.78), WHtR (OR 1.71) and WHR (OR 1.45). WHtR (42-45%) and BMI (35-36%) provided the highest positive predictive values for overweight/obesity from parental body shape. Parental obesity increases the risk of obesity for adult offspring, both for overall body shape and central adiposity, particularly for daughters. Pictograms could potentially be used as a screening tool in primary care settings to promote healthy weight among young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0137534
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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