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Overweight and obesity at age 18 after pre-natal famine exposure

Lumey, LH; Ekamper, P; Bijward, G; Conti, G; Van Poppel, F; (2019) Overweight and obesity at age 18 after pre-natal famine exposure. In: Proceedings of the Cohort Studies Meeting Spring 2019. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER): Cambridge, MA, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: In 1976, researchers reported that young men are more likely to be obese after famine exposure in utero. The findings were based on examinations at military induction of men in the Netherlands who had been exposed to the Dutch famine of 1944-1945. We had the opportunity to re-examine the relation between prenatal famine exposure and height and weight at age 18-19 with current definitions for being overweight or obese and with modern analytic methods. / Methods and findings: We used height and weight information from 408,015 men in the Netherlands born between 1943-1947 and examined for military service at age 18-19. This group includes men with and without prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine of 1944-1945. We found that the odds for being overweight at age 18 were significantly elevated (OR=1.56; CI 1.23 to 1.97) among sons of manual workers born in the famine cities. Contrary to findings in the 1976 publication, no increase was seen among sons of non-manual workers born in the famine cities. This may reflect more limited access to food by poorer populations exposed to the famine period. The increase was limited to men exposed to famine during early gestation. The risk of obesity in this group was also elevated although the prevalence of obesity (0.4%) was low. / Conclusions: We show increases in being overweight at age 18 after prenatal famine in the Netherlands among sons of manual workers. Further studies are needed to examine the impact of these weight changes as a possible mediator of famine effects on later morbidity and mortality. The underlying mechanisms of these observations need further clarification.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Overweight and obesity at age 18 after pre-natal famine exposure
Event: Cohort Studies Meeting Spring 2019
Location: Cambridge, MA, USA
Dates: 26 April 2019 - 27 April 2019
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.nber.org/conferences/cohort-studies-me...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117374
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