Objective To evaluate the effects of skin colour and life-course socioeconomic indicators on waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) in adolescence in a population-based birth cohort study.
Methodology All the 5249 individuals born in Pelotas (southern Brazil) in 1993 were repeatedly visited from birth to age 15 y. In 2008 the whole cohort was traced. The analysis was restricted to individuals located and measured at age 15 y (2004 males, 2094 females).
Results WC was higher in men that in women (72.4 and 68.9 cm, respectively, p<0.001), but WHtR showed no difference (0.43 in both cases, p=0.9). In men, family income at birth and at age 15 y were positively associated with WC, but only the former was associated with WHR. After adjustment for current family income and maternal education, men born to better-off families remained with larger WC in adolescence, but the association with WHtR was missed. Skin colour was not associated with any outcome. In women, neither skin colour nor family income (at birth or at age 15 y) were associated with WC or WHtR. All the associations in men remained even after adjustment for adolescent's behavioural variables (physical activity, fat intake, smoke and alcohol intake).
Conclusions In men, early and current socioeconomic position are directly associated with abdominal obesity. The effects of early socioeconomic conditions on WC persist even after adjustment for maternal education, adult wealth and current behavioural variables, highlighting the importance of interventions during the first years of life.
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