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Associations of childcare type, age at start, and intensity with body mass index trajectories from 10 to 42 years of age in the 1970 British Cohort Study

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posted on 09.03.2020 by Silvia Costa, David Bann, Sara E Benjamin-Neelon, Jean Adams, Will Johnson
Background: Attending childcare is related to greater childhood obesity risk, but there are few long-term follow-up studies. We aimed to examine the associations of childcare type, age at start, and intensity with BMI trajectories from ages 10-42 years. Methods: The sample comprised 8234 individuals in the 1970 British Cohort Study, who had data on childcare attendance (no, yes), type (formal, informal), age at start (4-5, 3-3.99, 0-2.99 years old), and intensity (1, 2, 3, 4-5 days/week) reported at age five years and 32563 BMI observations. Multilevel linear spline models were used to estimate the association of each exposure with the sample-average BMI trajectory, with covariate adjustment. A combined age at start and intensity exposure was also examined. Results: Attending versus not attending and the type of childcare (none versus formal/informal) were not strongly related to BMI trajectories. Among participants who attended childcare 1-2 days a week, those who started when 3-3.99 years old had a 0.197 (-0.004, 0.399) kg/m² higher BMI at age 10 years than those who started when 4-5 years old, and those who started when 0-2.99 years old had a 0.289 (0.049, 0.529) kg/m² higher BMI. A similar dose-response pattern for intensity was observed when holding age at start constant. By age 42 years, individuals who started childcare at age 0-2.99 years and attended 3-5 days/week had a 1.356 kg/m² (0.637, 2.075) higher BMI than individuals who started at age 4-5 years and attended 1-2 days/week. Conclusions: Children who start childcare earlier and/ or attend more frequently may have greater long-term obesity risk.


UK Medical Research Council (New Investigator Research Grant: MR/P023347/1)

Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence which is funded by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Wellcome Trust (MRC administered grant MR/K023187/1)



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Pediatric Obesity






John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of World Obesity Federation


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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Dr Silvia Costa. Deposit date: 9 March 2020

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