Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Rafael Perez-Escamilla

Second Advisor

Sheila Gahagan


Objective: To examine the relationship between adolescent obesity and associated maternal obesity variables of interest, specifically maternal pre-pregnancy obesity and maternal obesity 10 years postpartum.

Design: Secondary data analysis of a longitudinal study in Santiago, Chile (N=786 adolescents). Variables were extracted from multiple waves of data collection. The maternal obesity variables of interest and covariates were stratified by gender and associations of interest examined using univariate logistic regression analyses and multivariate logistic regression models with missing data imputation. Covariates included were birth weight percentile, breastfeeding for 6 months, father's presence, maternal age, and maternal education.

Results: Adolescent obesity was associated with maternal obesity in both males and females. Female obese adolescents had a positive association with maternal obesity at 10 years postpartum (OR= 3.65, CI= 1.19, 11.14) and a negative association with father's presence in the household (OR= 0.236, CI= 0.07, 0.76). Among male adolescents obesity was positively associated with maternal pre-pregnancy obesity (OR= 9.59, CI= 1.25, 73.31).

Conclusions: Maternal obesity status is an important predictor of adolescent obesity. Maternal obesity was a significant predictor of obesity among males and females but at chronologically different periods of the child's development. This may be attributed to gender related differences in genetic, behavioral, and/or environmental factors. Adolescent obesity intervention programs should provide varied approaches that cater to the different needs of males and females. Future research on maternal and other influences of adolescent obesity should focus on quantitative collection of parental and peer-related measures of anthropometrics, physical activity, dietary habits, as well as other sociobehavioral determinants of health.


This is an Open Access Thesis.