Childhood and adolescent obesity is a major global health problem. It is well known that obese parents have obese children and there is a high degree of continuity of obesity from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. However, generational and developmental pathways of childhood and adolescent obesity across generations are relatively unknown. 

This NHMRC-funded project is a community-based follow-up study of three generations to examine the impact of earlier generational factors on the developmental pathways of obesity in third generation. Examples of such generational factors include pregnancy exposures (e.g. pregnancy obesity and gestational diabetes of grandparent and parent) and parental developmental stages (e.g. early childhood obesity).

The Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP) cohort now has data covering the grandmothers' (GI) reproductive life course and a follow-up of their children (GII) into adulthood. We now propose a new study of the "children-of-the-children" who are the grandchildren (GIII) of GI and children of GII. MUSP is the only Australian birth cohort study - and one of few studies internationally - with the capacity to track obesity and its evolution across three generations within families.

The core science and knowledge resulting from this project has the potential to prevent development of obesity in future generations and halt progression of the current epidemic. This proposal represents an efficient and value-added use of one of Australia’s flagship epidemiological studies to better understand the mechanisms of early disease development across generations.

This five-year project received funding to the amount of $1,232,041. Investigators include Associate Professor Abdullah Mamun, Professor Jackob Najman, Professor Gail Williams, Associate Professor Rosa Alati, Associate Professor Alexandra Clavarino and Professor Harold McIntyre.

Project members

Emeritus Professor Jake Najman

Emeritus Professor
School of Public Health

Professor Gail Williams

School of Public Health
Director (Research Training)
Research Strategy and Support (Medicine)