Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death, worldwide. Obesity is one of the factors that is associated with the development of such diseases. The role of reproductive factors on women body composition has been evaluated, but the findings are controversial. This study was aimed at assessing the association of parity with body composition among women.
In 1982, the maternity hospital of Pelotas, a southern Brazilian city, were visited daily and all deliveries were identified. Those livebirths whose family lived in the urban area of the city have been prospectively followed (n = 5914). In 2012-13, we tried to follow the whole cohort, the subjects were interviewed and examined. We evaluated the association of parity with the following body composition variables: body mass index, waist circumference and fat mass %. Estimates were adjusted for family income, skin color, maternal schooling, occupational status, alcohol, smoking, physical activity, and consumption of processed and ultraprocessed foods. All these analyses were replicated among the cohort men as a comparison. We also assessed whether duration of breastfeeding moderated the association.
In the 2012-13 visit, 3701 subjects were evaluated (mean age of 30.2 years). In the present analysis, we included 1620 women and 1653 men. 33% of women were nulliparous and 48% of men were without children. Even after controlling for confounding, parous women had a BMI 0.96 kg/m2(95% CI: 0.30; 1.62) higher than nulliparous and for men the regression coefficient was 0.79 kg/m2(95% CI: 0.29; 1.29). Waist circumference was also higher among parous women. Among men, the association was not linear and the regression coefficients were lower than that observed among women [3.41 cm (95% CI: -0.91; 7.73) among men and 4.83 cm (95% CI: 2.43; 7.24) among women with more than 3 children when compared with those without children], but this difference was not statistically significant (interaction p value = 0.58). Fat mass % was not associated with parity. Breastfeeding did not modify the association between parity and body composition.
Parity was positively associated with body mass index and waist circumference among women. However, similar results among men suggest that there is no causal effect of parity.