The role of life-course socioeconomic and lifestyle factors in the intergenerational transmission of the metabolic syndrome: results from the LifeLines Cohort Study.


The risk of metabolic syndrome is associated between parents and offspring, but studies are inconsistent on differences by seks of parents and offspring. Our aim is to investigate to what extent metabolic syndrome present in fathers and mothers is associated with risk of metabolic syndrome in sons and daughters. Furthermore, we investigate to what extent these associations are explained by socioeconomic factors and health behaviours.


We used data from the LifeLines Cohort Study (N = 7239). Metabolic syndrome was defined according to the NCEP-ATPIII criteria. Logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate associations of metabolic syndrome present in parents with the risk of metabolic syndrome in offspring. Analyses were sequentially adjusted for: age and seks; childhood factors (socioeconomic position and parental smoking); and adult factors (education, income, smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake, and dietary factors).


Multivariate regression analysis adjusted for age and seks showed associations of the metabolic syndrome between father-son: odds ratio (OR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] 2.41 (1.93-3.00), father-daughter: OR (95% CI) 1.80 (1.39-2.33)), mother-son: OR (95% CI) 1.82 (1.44-2.29) and mother-daughter: OR (95% CI) 1.97 (1.52-2.55). Furthermore, each individual factor underlying the metabolic syndrome in parents was associated with metabolic syndrome in offspring, but not for all parent-offspring combinations. None of the parent-offspring associations was attenuated when adjusting for socioeconomic factors and health behaviours.


High risk of metabolic syndrome is transmitted from fathers and mothers to sons and daughters. Our results suggest that this transmission is irrespective of the socioeconomic position and health behaviours of the offspring.
© The Author 2016; all rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.


Cohort studies; health behaviour; metabolic syndrome x; parents; socioeconomic factors

year of publication



  • Int J Epidemiol.


  • Klijs, B
  • Angelini, V
  • Mierau, JO
  • Smidt, N.

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