Fat mass and fat-free mass track from infancy to childhood: New insights in body composition programming in early life

Inge A.L.P. van Beijsterveldt*, Kirsten S. de Fluiter, Laura M. Breij, Manouk van der Steen, Anita C.S. Hokken-Koelega

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: Early life is a critical window for adiposity programming. This study investigated whether fat mass percentage (FM%), fat mass index (FMI), abdominal fat, and fat-free mass (FFM) in early life track into childhood and whether there are sex differences and differences between infant feeding types. Methods: Detailed body composition was longitudinally measured by air-displacement plethysmography, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and abdominal ultrasound in 224 healthy, term-born children. Measurements were divided into tertiles. Odds ratios (OR) of remaining in the highest tertile of FM%, FMI, abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat, and FFM index (FFMI) were calculated from early life to age 4 years. Results: High FM% and FMI tracked from age 3 and 6 months to age 4 years (OR = 4.34 [p = 0.002] and OR = 6.54 [p < 0.001]). High subcutaneous abdominal fat tracked from age 6 months to age 4 years (OR = 2.30 [p = 0.012]). High FFMI tracked from age 1, 3, and 6 months to age 4 years (OR = 4.16 [p = 0.005], 3.71 [p = 0.004], and 3.36 [p = 0.019]). In non-exclusively breastfed infants, high FM% tracked from early life to age 4 years, whereas this was not the case for exclusively breastfed infants. There was no tracking in visceral fat or sex differences. Conclusions: Infants with high FM%, FMI, subcutaneous abdominal fat, and FFMI in early life are likely to remain in the highest tertile at age 4 years. Exclusive breastfeeding for 3 months is potentially protective against having high FM% at age 4 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1899-1906
Number of pages8
Issue number11
Early online date21 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACSHK received an independent research grant from Danone Nutricia Research (Grant number: 120417).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Obesity published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Obesity Society (TOS).

Research programs

  • EMC MM-01-54-01


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