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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Familial Associations of Adiposity: Findings from a Cross-Sectional Study of 12,181 Parental-Offspring Trios from Belarus
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011
Author: Rita Patel et al.

by Rita Patel, Richard M. Martin, Michael S. Kramer, Emily Oken, Natalia Bogdanovich, Lidia Matush, George Davey Smith, Debbie A. Lawlor


It is suggested that maternal adiposity has a stronger association with offspring adiposity than does paternal adiposity. Furthermore, a recent small study reported gender assortment in parental-offspring adiposity associations. We aimed to examine these associations in one of the largest studies to date using data from a low-middle income country that has recently undergone a major political and economic transition.

Methods and Principal Findings

In a cross-sectional study of 12,181 parental-offspring trios from Belarus (mean age (SD) of mothers 31.7 (4.9), fathers 34.1 (5.1) and children 6.6 (0.3) at time of assessment), we found positive graded associations of mother's and father's BMI with offspring adiposity. There was no evidence that these associations differed between mothers and fathers. For example, the odds ratio of offspring overweight or obesity (based on BMI) comparing obese and overweight mothers to normal weight mothers was 2.03 (95%CI 1.77, 2.31) in fully adjusted models; the equivalent result for father's overweight/obesity was 1.81 (1.58, 2.07). Equivalent results for offspring being in the top 10% waist circumference were 1.91 (1.67, 2.18) comparing obese/overweight to normal weight mothers and 1.72 (1.53, 1.95) comparing obese/overweight to normal weight fathers. Similarly, results for offspring being in the top 10% of percent fat mass were 1.58 (1.36, 1.84) and 1.76 (1.49, 2.07), for mother's and father's obese/overweight exposures respectively. There was no strong or consistent evidence of gender assortment - i.e. associations of maternal adiposity exposures with offspring outcomes were similar in magnitude for their daughters compared to equivalent associations in their sons and paternal associations were also similar in sons and daughters.


These findings suggest that genetic and/or shared familial environment explain family clustering of adiposity. Interventions aimed at changing overall family lifestyle are likely to be important for population level obesity prevention.