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Is there a greater maternal than paternal influence on offspring adiposity in India?
  1. Daniel J Corsi1,
  2. S V Subramanian2,3,
  3. Leland K Ackerson4,
  4. George Davey Smith5
  1. 1Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Harvard Center for Population & Development Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Department of Community Health and Sustainability, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor George Davey Smith, MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU) at the University of Bristol, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Oakfield House, 15-23 Oakfield Grove, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BN, UK; KZ.Davey-Smith{at}


Previous research has provided conflicting evidence regarding fetal roots of adiposity in India. To compare the strength of association between maternal and paternal body mass indexes (BMIs) corrected for height with offspring BMI in India to examine the potential for intrauterine mechanisms to influence offspring adiposity in India, we analysed a sample of 16 528 mother-father-offspring trios from the 2005 to 2006 Indian National Family Health Survey. Children were aged 0–59 months with parents aged 15–49 years (mothers) and 15–54 years (fathers). Linear and logistic regression models, specified in multiple ways, were used to estimate associations between parental BMI* (BMI redefined by power term x (kg/mx) to be independent from height), and child BMI/top decile of child BMI. Higher values of maternal BMI and paternal BMI were associated with higher values of offspring BMI. In comparing the effects of maternal BMI and paternal BMI, however, no consistent differences were found in the strength of these parental influences on offspring BMI. In the fully adjusted linear model, the standardised coefficient was 0.131 (95% CI 0.110 to 0.154) for maternal BMI* and 0.079 (95% CI 0.056 to 0.103) for paternal BMI*; with evidence of heterogeneity between maternal-offspring and paternal-offspring associations (p=0.005). This was not robust in the unstandardised regression (β=0.056, 95% CI 0.044 to 0.067 for maternal BMI and β=0.039, 95% CI 0.025 to 0.053 for paternal BMI, p=0.093). Mixed results indicate that compared with paternal BMI, maternal BMI did not have a consistently stronger influence on offspring BMI in India.

  • Growth
  • Nutrition
  • adiposity
  • India
  • undernutrition

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