Fat-free mass mediates the association between birth weight and aerobic fitness in youth.
International journal of pediatric obesity : IJPO : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 2010 ; 6: e590-6.
PubMed ID : 21050079
PMCID : EMS51479
To investigate whether birth weight acts as a biological determinant of later aerobic fitness, and whether fat-free mass may mediate this association.
The European Youth Heart Study (EYHS) is a population-based cohort of two age groups (9 and 15 years) from Denmark, Portugal, Estonia and Norway. Children with parentally reported birth weight >1.5 kg were included (n = 2 749). Data were collected on weight, height, and skinfold measures to estimate fat mass and fat-free mass. Aerobic fitness (peak power, watts) was assessed using a maximal, progressive cycle ergometer test. Physical activity was collected in a subset (n = 1 505) using a hip-worn accelerometer and defined as total activity counts/wear time, all children with >600 minutes/day for ≥3 days of wear were included.
Lower birth weight was associated with lower aerobic fitness, after adjusting for sex, age group, country, sexual maturity and socio-economic status (ß = 5.4; 95% CI: 3.5, 7.3 W per 1 kg increase in birth weight, p < 0.001). When fat-free mass was introduced as a covariate in the model, the association between birth weight and aerobic fitness was almost completely attenuated (p = 0.7). Birth weight was also significantly associated with fat-free mass (ß = 1.4; 95% CI: 1.1, 1.8, p < 0.001) and fat-free mass was significantly associated with aerobic fitness (ß = 3.6; 95% CI: 3.4, 3.7, p < 0.001). Further adjustment for physical activity did not alter the findings.
Birth weight may have long-term influences on fat-free mass and differences in fat-free mass mediate the observed association between birth weight and aerobic fitness.