Early life urban exposure as a risk factor for developing obesity and impaired fasting glucose in later adulthood: results from two cohorts in ThailandReport as inadecuate




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BMC Public Health

, 15:902

First Online: 16 September 2015Received: 09 March 2015Accepted: 03 September 2015DOI: 10.1186-s12889-015-2220-5

Cite this article as: Angkurawaranon, C., Wisetborisut, A., Rerkasem, K. et al. BMC Public Health 2015 15: 902. doi:10.1186-s12889-015-2220-5

Abstract

BackgroundObesity and obesity related conditions, driven by processes such as urbanization and globalization, are contributing to pronounced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in developing countries. There is limited evidence on the influence of living in an urban environment in early life on obesity and obesity related conditions later in life in developing countries such as Thailand.

MethodsWe used data from two cohort studies conducted in Thailand, the Thai Cohort Study TCS and the Chiang Mai University CMU Health Worker Study, to investigate the association between early life urban vs rural exposure and the later development of obesity. We additionally explored the association between early life urban exposure and impaired fasting glucose in adulthood using data from the CMU Health Worker Study.

ResultsAmong 48,490 adults from the TCS, 9.1 % developed obesity within 4 years of follow-up. Among 1,804 initially non-obese adults from CMU Health worker study, 13.6 % developed obesity within 5 years of follow-up. Early life urban exposure was associated with increased risk of developing obesity in adulthood in both cohorts. Adjusting for age and sex, those who spent their early lives in urban areas were 1.21 times more likely to develop obesity in the TCS OR 1.21, 95 % CI 1.12 to 1.31 and 1.65 times more likely in the CMU Health Worker study OR 1.65, 95 % CI 1.23 to 2.20. These associations remained significant despite adjustment for later life urban exposure and current household income. No evidence for an association was found for impaired fasting glucose.

ConclusionsEarly life urban exposure was associated with increased risk of developing obesity in adulthood. These findings support public health intervention programs to prevent obesity starting from early ages.

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