Newborn insula gray matter volume is prospectively associated with early life adiposity gain

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Insula GM volume was inversely associated with change in percent body fat from birth to six-months postnatal age and accounted for 19% of its variance (β=−3.6%/S.D., P=0.001). This association was driven by the central-posterior portion of the insula, a region of particular importance for gustation and interoception. The direction of this effect is in concordance with observations in adults, and the results remained statistically significant after adjusting for relevant covariates and potential confounding variables. Altogether, these findings suggest an underlying neural basis of childhood obesity that precedes the influence of the postnatal environment. The identification of plausible brain-related biomarkers of childhood obesity risk that predate the influence of the postnatal obesogenic environment may contribute to an improved understanding of propensity for obesity, early identification of at-risk individuals, and intervention targets for primary prevention.

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