From the fattest to the tallest?
The association patterns between childhood obesity and body height during adolescence
Keywords:childhood obesity, growth patterns, developmental tempo, body height, adolescence
Background: Growth and finally body height are influenced by various intrinsic and extrinsic factors. During the last decades the well documented secular trend of increase in body height slowed down. Overweight and obesity rates increased worldwide from childhood onwards. An association between rising obesity rates and the slowdown of the secular trend in body height might be assumed.
Aims: This study focuses on patterns of associations between childhood weight status, socioenvironmental factors, and adolescent body height. It is hypothesized that higher weight during childhood enhances developmental tempo and linear growth, and results in higher body height during adolescence.
Sample and methods: In a longitudinal study, the body height, body weight, and Body mass index (BMI) of 1506 randomly selected Viennese children were documented at the age of six, ten, and fifteen years. Weight status according to sex and age and age-specific BMI percentiles were determined. The association between weight status and body height was analyzed. A history of migration and the socioenvironmental background, based on specific characteristics of the residential area, have been included in the analysis.
Results: A marked positive association between weight status during childhood, male sex, socioenvironmental factor, the background of migration, and body height at the age of six and ten years could be documented. At the age of fifteen years, however, only male sex and BMI at age ten years were significantly positively associated with height.
Conclusion: High weight or obesity during childhood enhances growth during childhood, but no significant associations between weight status and height were observable during adolescence.
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