Using data from the 1986 Northern Finland Birth Cohort, researchers have discovered that non-genetic data available at the time of birth was enough to develop a simple formula to predict childhood or adolescent obesity.
The researchers analyzed the Northern Finland Birth Cohort (NFBC; n=4,032), allowing them to create predictive equations for childhood and adolescent obesity based on parental BMI, birth weight, maternal gestational weight gain, and behavior and social indicators. In addition, a genetic score was built from 39 BMI or polymorphisms associated with obesity. To confirm this analysis, researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of 1,503 children (aged 4 to 12 years) from Veneto, Italy; and a prospective cohort study of 1,032 children (aged 7 years) from Project Viva in Massachusetts.
“This test takes very little time, it doesn’t require any lab tests and it doesn’t cost anything,” researcher Philippe Froguel, MD, PhD, from the School of Public Health at the Imperial College London, said in a press release. “All the data we use are well-known risk factors for childhood obesity, but this is the first time they have been used together to predict from the time of birth the likelihood of a child becoming obese.”
Six predictive models were created to represent childhood obesity, adolescent obesity, persistent childhood obesity, childhood overweight/obesity, adolescent overweight/obesity and persistent childhood overweight/obesity. Considering the discrimination accuracy of each predictive model, Froguel and colleagues used the area under the receiver operating curve (AUROC) of the model risk for final outcome data.
Researchers wrote that discrimination accuracy of the risk calculation from traditional risk factors were “excellent” for persistent childhood obesity (AUROC=0.85; 95% CI, 0.80-0.90); “clinically meaningful” for persistent childhood overweight/obesity (AUROC=0.75; 95% CI, 0.73-0.78), childhood obesity (AUROC=0.78; 95% CI, 0.74-0.82), adolescent obesity (AUROC=0.75; 95% CI, 0.71-0.79) and adolescent overweight/obesity (AUROC=0.71; 95% CI, 0.69-0.73); and “below the threshold” for clinical usefulness for childhood overweight/obesity (AUROC=0.67; 95% CI, 0.65-0.69).
According to a press release, researchers found that 20% of children predicted to have the greatest risk for obesity at birth equate to 80% of obese children. They suggest early prevention techniques with parents to effectively address infants at risk for developing obesity.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.