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Childbearing Is Not Associated with Young Women’s Long-Term Obesity Risk


Robinson, Whitney R.; Cheng, Mariah Mantsun; Hoggatt, Katherine J.; Stürmer, Til; & Siega-Riz, Anna Maria (2014). Childbearing Is Not Associated with Young Women's Long-Term Obesity Risk. Obesity, 22(4), 1126-1132. PMCID: PMC3869892


Contemporary childbearing is associated with greater gestational weight gain and post-partum weight retention than in previous decades, potentially leading to a more pronounced effect of childbearing on women's long-term obesity risk. Previous work on the association of childbearing with women's long-term obesity risk mostly examined births in the 1970s and 1980s and produced mixed results.
OBJECTIVE: We estimated the association of childbearing and obesity incidence in a diverse, contemporary sample of 2,731 U.S. women.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Propensity-score (PS) matching was used for confounding control when estimating the effect of incident parity (1996 to 2001) on 7-year incident obesity (BMI>/=30 kg/m2 ) (2001 to 2008).
RESULTS: In the sample, 19.3% of parous women became obese while 16.1% of unmatched nulliparous women did. After PS matching without and with replacement, the differences in obesity incidence were, respectively, 0.0 percentage points (ppts) (95% CI: -4.7 to 4.7) and 0.9 ppts (95% CI: -4.9 to 6.7). Results were similar in analyses of prevalent parity and obesity in 2008 (n=6601) conducted to explore possible selection bias.
CONCLUSIONS: These results imply that, in contemporary U.S. parous women in their late 20s and early 30s, childbearing may not increase obesity incidence.


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Robinson, Whitney R.
Cheng, Mariah Mantsun
Hoggatt, Katherine J.
Stürmer, Til
Siega-Riz, Anna Maria