Background/Aims: Famines provide researchers with a quasi-experimental setting to investigate the long-term impact of nutritional deprivation during gestation and childhood on the adult health outcome. The present study was to investigate the association of early-year exposure to famine with abdominal fat accumulation and function, and further evaluate the influence of family history of diabetes and physical activity on this association.

Methods: The present work analyzed a part of the baseline data of REACTION study. A total of 3033 women were enrolled. Central obesity was defined as waist circumferences (W) ≥ 85 cm. Chinese visceral adiposity index (CVAI) was used to evaluate visceral adipose distribution and function in Chinese population.

Results: After adjusted for age and menopause status, partial correlation analysis showed body mass index (BMI), W, glycated hemoglobin A1c, and CVAI were associated with early-year exposure of famine (both P < 0.05). Logistic regression showed that the risks of overall overweight/obesity and central obesity in fetal, early-childhood, mid-childhood, and late-childhood exposed subgroups were increased significantly (all P < 0.05). Compared with non-exposed group, the BMI, W, and CVAI of fetal, early- to late-childhood exposed subgroups were significantly increased with the interference of family history of diabetes and physical activity degree, respectively (all P < 0.05). The associations of BMI, W, and CVAI with early-year exposure to famine were independent of their associations with family history of diabetes (P = 0.001 for BMI and < 0.001 for W and CVAI) or physical activity degree (all P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Early-year exposure to famine is associated with an increased risk of central obesity. Early-year exposure to famine contributed to abdominal fat accumulation and dysfunction, which was independent of the influence of genetic background and lifestyle intervention.


X. Hu: None. X. Gu: None.


Wenzhou Science and Technology Bureau (Y20190126, Y20170047); Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (LY20H070003); National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC1305202); National Natural Science Foundation of China (81900737)

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