Objective: To assess associations between childhood body weight, weight gain during childhood to adolescence/young adulthood and incidence of adult metabolic syndrome (MetS).
Design: A dynamic prospective cohort study (the SUN Project; Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra). Participants were asked to select which of nine body images most closely represented their body shape at ages 5 and 20 years, and it was used as a proxy of BMI. An incident case of MetS was diagnosed according to criteria of the International Diabetes Federation. Associations between childhood body weight, weight gain during childhood to adolescence/young adulthood and incidence of adult MetS were estimated by multiple-adjusted odds ratios and their 95 % confidence intervals.
Setting: University of Navarra, Spain.
Subjects: The study included 5317 university graduates, followed-up for a median of 6·1 years.
Results: The incidence of MetS was 2·9 % (1·7 % in women and 5·1 % in men). Among men, body shape at age 5 years was inversely related to adult MetS (OR = 0·83, 95 % CI 0·72, 0·97), whereas weight gain during childhood to adolescence/young adulthood was directly associated with adult MetS (OR = 1·49, 95 % CI 1·01, 2·18); both childhood underweight (OR = 5·20, 95 % CI 1·87, 14·50) and childhood obesity (OR = 4·66, 95 % CI 1·40, 15·51) increased the likelihood of adult MetS. No association was apparent among women.
Conclusions: These results support treating childhood underweight and weight gain during childhood to adolescence/young adulthood as part of comprehensive adult MetS prevention efforts in men.