AIMS: To examine whether father's social class was associated with body mass index (BMI) at age 20 and 50 years in a cohort of men born in 1953 and to explore the role of birth weight, cognitive function (IQ), and educational status in these relationships.
METHODS: We used data from the Metropolit cohort which includes 11,532 Danish men born in 1953 with information on father's socioeconomic position (SEP) at participant's birth and assessments of height, weight, cognitive performance, and education at age 20. In 2004, 6292 of these men participated in a follow-up survey on health and behavior. Linear and logistic regression was used to investigate the association of father's social class with BMI among the 5117 men with complete information on all variables.
RESULTS: Between age 20 and 50, mean BMI increased from 21.4 to 26.1 kg/m2, while the prevalence of overweight (BMI >=25 kg/m2) increased from 8.1 to 57.8%. Men of fathers who were skilled or unskilled workers had higher odds of being overweight (OR = 1.32, 95% CI 1.13-1.53) or often obese (OR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.03-1.60) at age 50 years compared to those with fathers being self-employed, employee, or civil servants when adjusted for the other socially correlated indicators of impaired childhood development. In the linear regression analyses, mean BMI at both age 20 and 50 were around 0.3 kg/m2 higher in men with fathers from working class compared to those self-employed, employee, or civil servants.
CONCLUSIONS: This study supports that among men, father's SEP influences the development of obesity later in adult life.