We describe the 40-year weight history and adult morbidity and mortality in a cohort of 504 overweight children, aged 2 months to 16 years, who were admitted for investigation of their overweight to four children's hospitals in Stockholm between 1921 and 1947. Follow-up information was gathered by questionnaire at 10-year intervals, most recently in 1980-1983 (n = 458), on weight history (based on the body mass index (BMI = kg/m2)), as well as prevalence of cardiovascular disease (n = 143), diabetes (n = 39), and cancer (all types (n = 20)), reported during the 40 years of follow-up, and mortality from all causes (n = 55), determined from death certificate. The sample of overweight children remained overweight as adults; after age 55 years, the BMI began to decline for both genders. Female subjects were heavier than their male counterparts from postpuberty onward. Subjects who died by the 40-year follow-up and those reporting cardiovascular disease were significantly (P
The accuracy of self-reported weights was assessed by comparing reported weights with measured weights of 1302 subjects at eight different medical and nonmedical sites across two countries (United States and Denmark), across ages, sexes, and different purposes for the weight measurements. Self-reported weights were remarkably accurate across all these variables in the American sample, even among obese people, and may obviate the need for measured weights in epidemiological investigations. Danish reports were somewhat less accurate, particularly among women over 40 yr of age.
BACKGROUND: Adult body mass index (BMI weight (kg)/height2 (m2)) usually shows familial correlations below 0.3, which are almost entirely due to genetic influences. The considerable remaining non-familial individual variation may be due to non-shared environmental influences which, however, may interact with or modify the genetic influence. OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether the genetic influence on adult BMI is modified by various obesity-related environmental conditions during childhood and adulthood. DESIGN: Adoption study, in which the genetic influence is assessed by the correlations in adult BMI between adoptees and their biological fathers, mothers and full siblings. These correlations were compared between groups of families characterized by differences in rearing or adult environment of the adoptees and/or their biological relatives. SUBJECTS: Height, current weight and greatest weight ever, were obtained in 3651 subjects, who were adopted by non-related families in Copenhagen between 1924 and 1947. Groups representing thin, medium weight, overweight and obese proband adoptees were selected by current BMI (n = 540) and by maximum BMI (n = 524). The members of the biological and adoptive families of the proband adoptees were identified and their BMI was computed from height and weight obtained by mailed questionnaires. MAIN VARIABLES: Indicators related to the rearing environment of the adoptees were age of the adoptee at transfer to the adoptive family, region of residence, presence of adoptive siblings and, for the adoptive parents, year of birth, age at time of adoption, occupational rating, smoking habits and BMI. Indicators of the environment of both the adoptee and the biological relatives were: year of birth; occupational rating and smoking habits, and, of the environment of the biological parents, age and parity at birth of the adoptee. RESULTS: The correlations in BMI between adoptees and the biological fathers, mothers and siblings were 0.11, 0.15 and 0.26 for adoptees selected by current BMI, and 0.13, 0.16, and 0.27 for adoptees selected by maximum BMI, respectively (all P
We examined the contributions of genetic factors and the family environment to human fatness in a sample of 540 adult Danish adoptees who were selected from a population of 3580 and divided into four weight classes: thin, median weight, overweight, and obese. There was a strong relation between the weight class of the adoptees and the body-mass index of their biologic parents - for the mothers, P less than 0.0001; for the fathers, P less than 0.02. There was no relation between the weight class of the adoptees and the body-mass index of their adoptive parents. Cumulative distributions of the body-mass index of parents showed similar results; there was a strong relation between the body-mass index of biologic parents and adoptee weight class and no relation between the index of adoptive parents and adoptee weight class. Furthermore, the relation between biologic parents and adoptees was not confined to the obesity weight class, but was present across the whole range of body fatness - from very thin to very fat. We conclude that genetic influences have an important role in determining human fatness in adults, whereas the family environment alone has no apparent effect.
Skewness in the distribution of body mass index in a population of Danish men (n = 1,589) and women (n = 1,988) adopted in Copenhagen between 1923 and 1947 can be explained by mixture of three component distributions, after removing age and sex effects. Even when residual skewness was allowed for in component distributions, similar results were obtained. The upper component distributions corresponded to extreme overweight in both women and men. The results indicate that while there are differences in the means and ranges of body mass index in men and women, the component distributions are similar. Both genetic and environmental factors can produce such component distributions. The authors speculate that the underlying predisposition to obesity is distributed similarly in women and men. Finally, on the basis of the component distributions, the authors propose thresholds of body mass index which allow for 85-98 per cent separation of moderate and extreme overweight groups in men and women.
In this study we explore the relationships between intelligence test score, educational level, and degree of body fatness. We collected data on intelligence test score, educational level, height, and weight from a sample of 26,274 young Danish men and computed body mass index (weight/height2) as a measure of fatness. Both intelligence test score and educational level had maximum values below the median for body mass index and declined monotonically thereafter. The decline was equal for test score and educational level and above 32 kg/m2 corresponded to almost half a standard deviation. These results are not readily explained by stigmatization of frank obesity, and other mechanisms, possibly genetic, may be responsible.