Digital Public Defence: Ingun Toftemo

MD Ingun Toftemo at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis Childhood obesity in a multiethnic society. Early life risk factors and communication with parents for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Photo: Kirsti Hovde. 

The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

Click here to participate in the public defence

Download Zoom here

Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.

Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

See Digital Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Associate Professor Tanja Vrijkotte, Amsterdam UMC
  • Second opponent: Associate Professor Ane Kokkvoll, Finnmarksykehuset/Universitetet i Tromsø
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Ketil Størdal, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Morten Magelssen, University of Oslo 

Principal Supervisor

Associate professor Line Sletner, University of Oslo


The development of childhood obesity starts before conception. Health professionals may find communication with parents of children with overweight challenging.

The aims of this thesis was to explore ethnic differences in thinness and overweight in preschool children, and the effects of mother’s prepregnant weight, gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes on children’s body mass index (BMI) growth trajectories from birth to 4-5 years. We also aimed to explore parent’s views and experiences when health professionals identify their preschool child as overweight.

In a multi-ethnic cohort of healthy pregnant women and their children, we found striking ethnic differences in overweight and thinness in children at age 4-5 years. Logistic regression analyses showed that children with origin in Middle East and North Africa had twice the risk of overweight, compared with children with European origin, while children with South Asian origin had twice the risk of thinness.

Using mixed models analyses, we found that maternal prepregnant obesity was associated with high BMI from birth to 4-5 yeas, while high maternal gestational weight gain was associated with a faster BMI growth form age 6 months. Children exposed to gestational diabetes had a fall in BMI during first 6 months, followed by a rise in BMI.

Systematic text condensation analyses of in-depth interviews with parents of preschool children recently identified with overweight revealed that parents felt vulnerable. They feared eating disorders and preferred conversation without the child present. They considered kindergartens as helpful, and their own weight- and dieting experiences acted as both motivation and barrier to deal with their toddlers overweight.

The thesis provides new knowledge important for identification of families at risk and improvement of communication with parents. It emphasizes the importance of a transgenerational perspective on childhood obesity, as well as cooperation across professions.

Additional information

Contact the research support staff.



Published May 25, 2021 9:45 AM - Last modified June 7, 2021 12:42 PM