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The effects of sun intensity during pregnancy and in the first 12 months of life on childhood obesity

Dustmann, Christian; Sandner, Malte; Schönberg, Uta; (2022) The effects of sun intensity during pregnancy and in the first 12 months of life on childhood obesity. Journal of Human Resources 10.3368/jhr.0920-11159r1. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Obesity not only leads to immense medical costs associated with treating obesity-related illness but is also associated with lower employment prospects and earnings. This study shows that sunshine-induced vitamin D may have a preventive effect on obesity for children. It investigates the relation between sun intensity from pregnancy until infancy on obesity at age six, using population data of more than 600,000 children. Our findings show that the effects of sun intensity on subsequent obesity are concentrated in the first six months of life: 100 hours of additional sunshine over this period reduce overweight by 1.1 percent and severe obesity by 6.2 percent. We offer two main explanations for this pattern. First, infants’ vitamin D levels are particularly sensitive to sunshine in the first six months of life, when lactation is highest. Second, the first six months of life are a sensitive period for later obesity, as this is the period when infants rapidly gain weight and adipose tissue develops.

Type: Article
Title: The effects of sun intensity during pregnancy and in the first 12 months of life on childhood obesity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3368/jhr.0920-11159r1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3368/jhr.0920-11159r1
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. This open access article is distributed under the terms of the CC-BY-NC-ND license. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0).
Keywords: Childhood Obesity, Prevention, Vitamin D
UCL classification: 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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10148525
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