University of Oulu

Nedelec R, Jokelainen J, Miettunen J, Ruokonen A, Herzig KH, Männikkö M, Järvelin MR, Sebert S. Early determinants of metabolically healthy obesity in young adults: study of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. International Journal of Obesity 2018; 42(10):1704-1714. DOI:10.1038/s41366-018-0115-0

Early determinants of metabolically healthy obesity in young adults : study of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966

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Author: Nedelec, Rozenn1,2; Jokelainen, Jari1,3; Miettunen, Jouko1,4;
Organizations: 1Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Unit of Primary Care, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5NordLab Oulu, Department of Clinical Chemistry, Oulu University Hospital, University of Oulu, Finland
6Research Unit of Biomedicine, Department of Physiology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
7Department of Gastroenterology and Metabolism, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland
8Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom
9MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
10Department of Life Sciences, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London, United Kingdom
11Department of Genomics of Complex Diseases, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-05-06


Background: A body of literature suggests a metabolically healthy phenotype in individuals with obesity. Despite important clinical implications, the early origins of metabolically healthy obesity (MHO) have received little attention.

Objective: To assess the prevalence of MHO among the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966) at 31 years of age, examine its determinants in early life taking into account the sex specificity.

Methods: We studied 3205 term-born cohort participants with data available for cardio-metabolic health outcomes at 31 years, and longitudinal height and weight data. After stratifying the population by sex, adult BMI and a strict definition of metabolic health (i.e., no risk factors meaning metabolic health), we obtained six groups. Repeated childhood height and weight measures were used to model early growth and early adiposity phenotypes. We employed marginal means adjusted for mother and child covariates including socio-economic status, birth weight and gestational-age, to compare differences between the groups.

Results: The prevalence of adult MHO was 6% in men and 13.5% in women. Differences in adult metabolic status were linked to alterations in BMI and age at adiposity peak in infancy (p < 0.0003 in men and p = 0.027 in women), and BMI and age at adiposity rebound (AR) (p < 0.0001 irrespective of sex). Compared to MHO, metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO) women were five and a half months younger at AR (p = 0.007) with a higher BMI while MUO men were four months older ( p = 0.036) with no difference in BMI at AR.

Conclusion: At the time of AR, MHO women appeared to be older than their MUO counterparts while MHO men were younger. These original results support potential risk factors at the time of adiposity rebound linked to metabolic health in adulthood. These variations by sex warrant independent replication.

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Series: International journal of obesity
ISSN: 0307-0565
ISSN-E: 1476-5497
ISSN-L: 0307-0565
Volume: 42
Issue: 10
Pages: 1704 - 1714
DOI: 10.1038/s41366-018-0115-0
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: NFBC1966 received financial support from University of Oulu Grant No. 65354, Oulu University Hospital Grant No. 2/97, 8/97, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs Grant no. 23/251/97, 160/97, 190/97, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki Grant No. 54121, Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland Grant No. 50621, 54231. This work was supported by Biocenter Oulu, Grant 24002964, EurHealthAgeing, Grant No. 277849, Academy of Finland, Grant 243007961 and DynaHEALTH, Grant No. 633595.
EU Grant Number: (277849) EURHEALTHAGEING - European ResearcH on DevElopmentAL, BirtH and Genetic Determinants of Ageing
(633595) DYNAHEALTH - Understanding the dynamic determinants of glucose homeostasis and social capability to promote Healthy and active aging
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2018.