Public Health Nutrition


To what extent do weight gain and eating avidity during infancy predict later adiposity?

Charlotte M Wrighta1 c1, Katherine Marie Coxa1, Andrea Sherriffa2, Maria Franco-Villoriaa3, Mark S Pearcea4, Ashley J Adamsona4 and Gateshead Millennium Study core team

a1 Community Child Health, PEACH Unit, School of Medicine, MVLS, QMH Tower, Yorkhill Hospitals, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK

a2 Glasgow Dental School, MVLS, Glasgow, UK

a3 Department of Statistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

a4 Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Objective To determine the extent to which weight gain and eating behaviours in infancy predict later adiposity.

Design Population-based, prospective, longitudinal birth cohort study. Weights collected in infancy were used to calculate Z-scores for weight gain to age 1 year conditional on birth weight (CWG). To avoid multiple significance tests, variables from the parent questionnaire completed at age 1 year describing eating avidity were combined using general linear modelling to create an infancy avidity score. Anthropometry, skinfold thicknesses and bioelectrical impedance data collected at age 7–8 years were combined using factor analysis, to create an adiposity index.

Setting Gateshead, UK.

Subjects Members of the Gateshead Millennium Study cohort with data at both time points (n 561).

Results CWG in infancy significantly predicted adiposity at age 7 years, but related more strongly to length and lean mass. High adiposity (> 90th internal percentile) at age 7 years was significantly associated with high CWG (relative risk 2·76; 95 % CI 1·5, 5·1) in infancy, but less so with raised (> 74th internal percentile) eating avidity in infancy (relative risk 1·87; 95 % CI 0·9, 3·7). However, the majority of children with high weight gain (77·6 %) or avidity (85·5 %) in infancy did not go on to have high adiposity at age 7 years.

Conclusions Rapid weight gain in infancy and the eating behaviours which relate to it do predict later adiposity, but are more strongly predictive of later stature and lean mass.

(Received December 03 2010)

(Accepted July 08 2011)

(Online publication October 18 2011)


c1 * Corresponding author: Email


Gateshead Millennium Study core team: Ashley Adamson, Anne Dale, Robert Drewett, Ann Le Couteur, Paul McArdle, Kathryn Parkinson, Mark S. Pearce, John J. Reilly, Charlotte M. Wright.