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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Socio-demographic and lifestyle factors for child’s physical growth and adiposity rebound of Japanese children: a longitudinal study of the 21st century longitudinal survey in newborns

Yoko Franchetti12 and Hiroo Ide3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biostatistics & Computational Biology, Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA, USA

2 Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA, USA

3 Research Division of Health Policy in Aging Society, Chiba University Hospital, Inohana 1-8-1, Chuo-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:334  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-334

Published: 9 April 2014



It is unknown whether childhood physical development in Asian populations differs from western populations, since no longitudinal analysis has been performed in Asian countries yet. Utilizing the 21st Century Longitudinal Survey in Newborns, we studied the timing of adiposity rebound (AR) among Japanese children and determined whether AR occurs earlier in obese children compared to nonobese children. Furthermore, we identified important demographic, social, and lifestyle factors that affect their physical development.


We used data from the annual surveillance of Japanese children born in 2001, with 45,392 eligible subjects. We applied survival analysis to evaluate the AR and a trajectory method for the BMI transition across 5 ½ years. Time-dependent and time-independent factors affecting BMI changes were investigated using longitudinal analysis. Accounting for the known difference in prevalence between Japanese and Western children, we adopted a 95th percentile of BMI as criterion for obesity.


Mean BMI at birth and at ages 1 ½, 2 ½, 3 ½, 4 ½, and 5 ½ years for all subjects were 12.6, 16.3, 16.1, 15.8, 15.5, and 15.4, respectively, showing a progressive reduction after 1 ½ years. However, among obese children at 5 ½ years, 39.6% had experienced AR as early as at age 4 ½ years. Controlling for sex, Cox’s proportional hazards model showed that obese children had a 48.5% higher hazard to experience AR than nonobese children. The difference in BMI transition between obese and non-obese children was also captured by a trajectory method. In longitudinal analysis, BMI was lower for children who had a longer gestational period whereas children who received parental care from non-family members gained higher BMI values.


With the 95th percentile cutoff for children obesity, obese Japanese children developed AR earlier than nonobese Japanese children, similar to those in Western countries reported in the literature. Primary caretakers and length of gestational period were the most important socio-demographic factors affecting physical development.

Obesity; Adiposity rebound (AR); Body mass index (BMI); Longitudinal survey; Lifestyle