Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Effect of parental overweight and serum leptin levels on the manifestation of overweight in 7-year-old Korean children

In K Kima1, Hye-Ja Leea1, Jae H Kanga2 and Jihyun Songa1 c1

a1 Division of Metabolic Diseases, Center for Biomedical Sciences, National Institute of Health, 194 Tongillo, Eunpyeong-ug, Seoul 122-701, Korea

a2 Department of Family Medicine and Obesity Research Institute, Seoul-Paik Hospital, Inje University, Seoul, Korea


Objective To explore the relationship between children and their parents in terms of various anthropometric parameters and obesity-related hormone levels and to identify early indicators for child obesity.

Design Cross-sectional observational study.

Setting Urban areas of Korea in 2005.

Subjects A total 124 families with 7-year-old children participated. Anthropometric and blood biochemistry data and information concerning the children’s lifestyles, dietary habits and parental and grandparental weight status were obtained.

Results The mean values for all anthropometric parameters were greater in overweight children than in children of normal weight. Very close relationships existed between the anthropometric parameters of children and their parents. Children with two overweight parents showed the highest odds for being overweight (OR 7·62). The strong relationship between overweight children and grandparental and parental overweight, especially on the maternal side, suggests gender differences in the intergenerational transmission of body weight. We also noted a greater risk of being overweight in children with a parent with high serum leptin level.

Conclusions Grandparental and parental weight status and parental serum leptin levels enable us to identify childhood obesity at an early age and may help to counter the current epidemic of adult obesity.

(Received October 09 2008)

(Accepted October 20 2009)

(Online publication November 30 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Email