Obesity is known to cluster in families, but most studies to date are limited to two generations. A new Pediatric Obesity study is the first to prospectively examine the relationship between grandparent and grandchild abdominal obesity.
The study found a consistent relationship between waist circumference in maternal grandmother and grandchild, with no relationship seen in other lineages. The association was seen at both time points analyzed: when children were 5 years old and 9 years old. Data came from participants in the Lifeways Cross-Generation Cohort Study, which was initiated in 2001 in Ireland.
The results may suggest an intrauterine or environmental effect, with potential public health and clinical implications.
"These findings may have practical implications for family interventions at a time of global challenge in combating obesity," said senior author Dr. Cecily Kelleher, of University College Dublin, in Ireland. "But they also emphasize the need to understand in scientific terms cross-generation transmission of non-communicable disease risk."