University of Oulu

Protsenko, M., Kerkelä, M., Miettunen, J., Auvinen, J., Järvelin, M., Jones, P., . . . Veijola, J. (2023). Body mass index in the middle-aged offspring of parents with severe mental illness. Psychological Medicine, 53(8), 3621-3627. doi:10.1017/S0033291722000253

Body mass index in the middle-aged offspring of parents with severe mental illness

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Author: Protsenko, Maria1; Kerkelä, Martta1; Miettunen, Jouko2,3;
Organizations: 1Department of Psychiatry, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
5Unit of Primary Health Care, Oulu University Hospital, OYS, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
7THL, Department of Knowledge Brokers, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
8Research Centre for Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
9Region Stockholm, Academic Primary Health Care Centre, Stockholm, Sweden
10Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
11Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Cambridge University Press, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-06-27


Background: People with severe mental illness (SMI) have an elevated risk of obesity but the causes and mechanisms are unclear. We explored the familial association between parental SMI and body mass index (BMI) in middle-aged offspring. Our objective was to determine if the offspring of either parent with SMI have an increased risk for obesity.

Methods: The Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 is a cohort study of offspring with expected date of birth in 1966. The data include originally 12 068 mothers and 12 231 children from the provinces of Lapland and Oulu in Finland. The final study sample included 5050 middle-aged offspring. Parental SMI was used as exposure in the study. BMI measured at the age of 46 years was used as a primary outcome.

Results: Risk for obesity was elevated in the offspring of mothers with SMI [overweight: adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.93 (1.29–2.90), obese class I: 1.97 (1.20–3.25), obese classes II–III: 2.98 (1.67–5.33)]. For the offspring of either parent with SMI, statistically significant results were found in obese class I and obese classes II–III [overweight: adjusted OR 1.21 (0.94–1.54), obese class I: 1.52 (1.03–1.08), obese classes II–III: 1.53 (1.01–2.32)].

Conclusions: We found an elevated risk of obesity in the middle-aged offspring of either parent with SMI, especially in the offspring of mothers with SMI. Thus, there might be a common familial pathway leading to the co-occurrence of obesity and SMI.

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Series: Psychological medicine
ISSN: 0033-2917
ISSN-E: 1469-8978
ISSN-L: 0033-2917
Volume: 53
Issue: 8
Pages: 3621 - 3627
DOI: 10.1017/s0033291722000253
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3124 Neurology and psychiatry
Funding: NFBC1966 received financial support from the University of Oulu Grant no. 24000692, Oulu University Hospital Grant no. 24301140, ERDF European Regional Development Fund Grant no. 539/2010 A31592. The corresponding author received financial support from Iso-Mällinen foundation.
Copyright information: © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.