BACKGROUND: Birth weight is an early correlate of disease later in life, and animal studies suggest that low birth weight is associated with reduced activity and increased sedentary time. Whether birth weight predicts later sedentary time in humans is uncertain.
OBJECTIVES: We examined the relation between birth weight and sedentary time in youth and examined whether this association was mediated by central adiposity.
DESIGN: We used pooled cross-sectional data from 8 observational studies conducted between 1997 and 2007 that consisted of 10,793 youth (boys: 47%) aged 6-18 y from the International Children's Accelerometry Database. Birth weight was measured in hospitals or maternally reported, sedentary time was assessed by using accelerometry (<100 counts/min), and abdominal adiposity (waist circumference) was measured according to WHO procedures. A mediation analysis with bootstrapping was used to analyze data.
RESULTS: The mean (±SD) time spent sedentary was 370 ± 91 min/d. Birth weight was positively associated with sedentary time (B = 4.04, P = 0.006) and waist circumference (B = 1.59, P < 0.001), whereas waist circumference was positively associated with sedentary time (B = 0.82, P < 0.001). Results of the mediation analysis showed a significant indirect effect of birth weight on sedentary time through waist circumference (B: 1.30; 95% bias-corrected CI: 0.94, 1.72), and when waist circumference was controlled for, the effect of birth weight on sedentary time was attenuated by 32% (B = 2.74, P = 0.06).
CONCLUSION: The association between birth weight and sedentary time appears partially mediated by central adiposity, suggesting that both birth weight and abdominal adiposity may be correlates of sedentary time in youth.