New evidence from a groundbreaking Christchurch based study is showing childhood links to adult obesity.
The study found early predictors of adult obesity included being male, being raised by a single parent, and experiencing severe sexual abuse.
Director of Christchurch Health and Development Study, John Horwood, said the study highlighted the risk factors that can lead to obesity.
"In an ideal world, a study like this might highlight factors in childhood where there are some obvious way in which we can make a change to improve or reduce later risks of obesity," Horwood said.
The University of Otago study examined the lives of 1,265 children born in Christchurch in 1977.
Researchers formulated the study to assess a variety of health outcomes.
The conclusions show that obesity is associated with social and family backgrounds, biological endowment, cognitive ability and childhood adversity factors.
"Obesity is a difficult issue that is a complex mix of factors... Basically our study highlights some of the factors that are involved, [but] it is also not the case that any individual factor on its own has a particularly strong effect," Horwood said.