Parental body mass index and its association with body composition, physical fitness and lifestyle factors in their 4-year-old children: results from the MINISTOP trial

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To examine the association between parental body mass index (BMI) and their offspring's body composition, physical fitness and lifestyle factors (that is, sedentary time, physical activity and diet).


A total of 307 preschoolers (4.5 ± 0.1 years) and their parents (fathers: 38.1 ± 5.1 years and mothers: 35.6 ± 4.2 years) participated in this study. Parental BMI was calculated using self-reported weight and height. Preschoolers body composition was assessed using: BMI, fat mass percentage, fat mass index, fat-free mass index (measured via air-displacement plethysmography) and waist circumference. Physical fitness was assessed by the PREFIT fitness battery. Lifestyle factors were assessed using the ActiGraph wGT3x-BT (sedentary time and physical activity), and the mobile-phone based tool for energy balance in children (diet).


Parental BMI were positively associated with their offspring's BMI (paternal BMI: standardised beta, β = 0.233, P < 0.001; maternal BMI: β = 0.186, P = 0.001), fat mass index (paternal BMI: β = 0.130, P = 0.026; maternal BMI: β = 0.163, P = 0.005), fat-free mass index (paternal BMI: β = 0.214, P < 0.001; maternal BMI: β = 0.119, P = 0.036) and waist circumference (paternal BMI: β = 0.178, P = 0.001; maternal BMI: β = 0.179, P = 0.001). A negative association was found between maternal BMI and their offspring's standing long jump test (β = − 0.132, P = 0.022). Paternal BMI was associated with their offspring's sedentary time (β = 0.100, P = 0.026), whereas parental BMI was not associated with neither physical activity nor diet (all P ≥ 0.104).


Parental BMI was positively associated with their offspring's BMI, fat as well as fat-free mass index and waist circumference. Moreover, a higher paternal and maternal BMI were related to higher levels of sedentary time and a lower performance in the standing long jump test of their offspring, respectively.

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