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Birth weight, biological maturation and obesity in adolescents: a mediation analysis

  • A. O. Werneck (a1), D. R. P. Silva (a1), P. J. Collings (a2), R. A. Fernandes (a3), E. R. V. Ronque (a1), M. J. Coelho-e-Silva (a4), L. B. Sardinha (a5) and E. S. Cyrino (a1)...


This study was aimed to investigate associations between birth weight and multiple adiposity indicators in youth, and to examine potential mediating effects by biological maturation. This was a school-based study involving 981 Brazilian adolescents aged between 10 and 17 years. Birth weight was reported retrospectively by mothers. Maturation was estimated by age of peak height velocity. Adiposity indicators included body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and percent body fat estimated from triceps and subscapular skinfolds. Multilevel mediation analyses were performed using the Sobel test, adjusted for chronological age, gestational age, cardiorespiratory fitness and socio-economic status. Except for body fat in girls, biological maturation partly or fully mediated (P<0.05) positive relationships between birth weight with all other obesity indicators in both sexes with their respective values of indirect effects with 95% confidence intervals: BMI [boys: 0.44 (0.06–0.82); girls: 0.38 (0.13–0.64)], waist circumference [boys: 1.14 (0.22–2.05); girls: 0.87 (0.26–1.48)] and body fat [boys: 0.60 (0.13–1.07)]. To conclude, birth weight is associated with elevated obesity risk in adolescence and biological maturation seems to at least partly mediate this relationship.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: A. O. Werneck, Physical Education Department, Londrina State University, Rodovia Celso Garcia Cid, km 380, Campus Universitário, Londrina, Paraná 86051-990, Brazil. (Email


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Birth weight, biological maturation and obesity in adolescents: a mediation analysis

  • A. O. Werneck (a1), D. R. P. Silva (a1), P. J. Collings (a2), R. A. Fernandes (a3), E. R. V. Ronque (a1), M. J. Coelho-e-Silva (a4), L. B. Sardinha (a5) and E. S. Cyrino (a1)...


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