Preschool children and overweight

Identification of young children at high risk of adolescent and adult overweight

The prevalence of overweight especially among children in the developed countries has been increasing for decades. Prevention and management of overweight pose major challenges as interventions to treat overweight have shown disappointing results. However, recent reviews indicate that intervention in the preschool years may have larger effect than intervention later on. Pre- and perinatal risk indicators and preschool measures of body size have been studied in relation to later overweight, and the association with later overweight is confirmed for a number of risk indicators. In many countries these risk indicators are available when preschool children and their parents attend routine health examinations.
We aim to develop a model, based on known risk indicators, to predict future overweight among preschool children attending routine health examinations.
We use two population-based Northern Finland Birth Cohorts including 4111 children born in 1966 (NFBC1966) and 5414 children born in 1985-1986 (NFBC1986). We examine the associations between early life risk indicators and adolescent overweight at different stages of the obesity epidemic comparing the two cohorts as only risk indicators that are stable over time can be used in future generations. Early life anthropometrics associations with adult outcomes are examined in the NFBC1966, where participants were followed up to the age of 31 years, as we aim to predict adiposity harmful to health. Based on the results from the first two studies we develop early childhood prediction models in the NFBC1966 and test them in the NFBC1986.


Lise Graversen




Carsten Obel
Director, Professor


31/08/2010 → 31/08/2013