The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Maternal body composition predicts prepubertal fat mass accrual in female offspring


1Department of Anthropology, Emory University, 2Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 3School of Medicine, Emory University

April 16, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Lifespan health begins in the womb, with substantial epidemiological evidence that excess maternal adiposity is associated with increased body fat among adult offspring. The physiological mechanisms that explain this relationship are less clear, when these phenotypes emerge. Beginning at 21 months of age, we prospectively measured body composition at 6-month intervals across pubertal development using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry among 18 female Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, investigating associations between maternal weight and body fat, birth weight, and age at menarche with developmental outcomes. Further, we examined the role of leptin and osteocalcin as mediators of body composition trajectories. Dam weight and being in the highest tertile of adiposity during mid-pregnancy predicted increased offspring fat mass accrual from age 21 to 39 months (F=2.05, p>0.003 and F=1.03, p>0.032, respectively). Birth weight also predicted fat mass accrual across adolescence (F=2.16, p>0.002). These effects were not significantly modified by offspring age at menarche or circulating levels of osteocalcin or leptin at any time point. Our results support previous research that maternal overweight and obesity has implications for offspring body composition, specifically that such effects emerge as early as the prepubertal period. These results reinforce the importance of overweight and obesity prevention among women of reproductive age as a strategy with potential intergenerational benefits for reversing recent trends of chronic disease morbidity.

This study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH-5R21HD075264-02).