Weight loss attempts occur as early as childhood. The impacts of weight loss attempts and weight‐related stress on the occurrence of obesity during childhood remain unknown. We aimed to: (a) assess the prevalence of self‐reported weight loss attempts and weight‐related stress in 8–10 year‐old children and (b) determine associations with adiposity 2 years later.
Data were collected from a cohort study of 564 Canadian children aged 8–10 years, having one or both biological parents with obesity (Quebec Adipose and Lifestyle Investigation in Youth cohort). Self‐reported weight loss attempts and weight‐related stress were assessed at baseline in the child’s questionnaire. Adiposity was measured at baseline and 2 years later using body mass index z‐scores (zBMI), waist‐to‐height ratio (WHtR), and percentage of body fat (%BF) obtained from dual‐energy x‐ray absorptiometry. Linear and logistic regression analyses were used while adjusting for potential confounders.
Forty‐eight percent of children reported previous weight loss attempts and 20% reported weight‐related stress. Self‐reported weight loss attempts and weight‐related stress were associated with higher zBMI, WHtR, and %BF 2 years later in adjusted models, although estimates were attenuated when including baseline adiposity measures. Self‐reported weight loss attempts, but not weight‐related stress, increased the risk of becoming overweight among children who were normal weight at baseline.
Weight loss attempts are prevalent in children with parental obesity. Children reporting weight loss attempts and weight‐related stress tend to have higher adiposity 2 years later and are more likely to become overweight.