To assess the relationship between family history and different types of obesity and change in obesity in a longitudinal population study.
A longitudinal population study of 1462 randomly selected women (38–60 yr old) was conducted in Göteborg, Sweden, in 1968–69. The women were restudied after 12 yr.
A family history of diabetes in mothers but not fathers showed, in univariate analysis, a significant positive association with obesity expressed as BMI. A family history of diabetes in the mothers was inversely related to body fat distribution expressed as WHR. No other association was observed between family history of diabetes and WHR. The association with BMI was independent of age, WHR, smoking habits, blood glucose, systolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol, serum triglycerides, maternal obesity, and the incidence of diabetes during the 12-yr follow-up period. Twelve years later, in 1980–1981, an independent association still existed between family history for diabetes and BMI measured at that examination, whereas there was no relationship with WHR. Women who had a family history of diabetes increased their BMI significantly more during the 12-yr follow-up compared with the women without a family history of diabetes, whereas there was no difference for the change of WHR. Family history of coronary heart disease and family history of cancer did not correlate to any kind of obesity.
These findings indicate that family history of diabetes is related to overall obesity but not to abdominal adiposity per se.