Raised Adolescent Body Mass Index Predicts the Development of Adiposity and a Central Distribution of Body Fat in Adulthood: A Longitudinal Study

Angela M. Craigie, John N. S. Matthews, Andrew J. Rugg-Gunn, Amelia A. Lake, John C. Mathers, Ashley J. Adamson

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    Objective: To test the hypothesis that adolescent body mass index ( BMI) tracks into adulthood and can be used as a predictor of obesity and/or central adiposity in adulthood. Method: A prospective cohort study following up 111 female and 84 male subjects who participated in dietary and anthropometric surveys when aged 12 years ( in 1979-1981) and 33 years ( in 2000-2001). At both time-points, height and weight were measured and BMI calculated. At 33 years, waist circumference ( WC) and hip circumference were also measured and waist-to-hip ratio ( WHR) calculated. Results: In the male and female participants, BMI at 12 years was associated significantly with BMI at 33 years ( R = 0.58 and 0.53, respectively, both p < 0.01) and WC at 33 years ( R = 0.58 and 0.53, both p < 0.01). The probability of being an obese adult increased with rising adolescent BMI: normal weight male ( BMI < 20.89 kg/m(2)) and female subjects ( BMI < 21.20 kg/m(2)) at 12 years had a 20% and a 7% chance of being obese at 33 years, respectively; the probabilities for obese male ( BMI >= 25.58 kg/m(2)) and female subjects ( BMI >= 26.05 kg/m(2)) were 83 and 64%. The corresponding probability of becoming centrally obese ( measured by WC) increased from 17 and 16% in male and female subjects of a normal weight to 58 and 59% in those being obese. Conclusions: Adolescent BMI is a good predictor of adult BMI and WC and the likelihood of becoming obese and/or centrally obese in adulthood.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)150-156
    Number of pages7
    JournalObesity Facts
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Body mass index
    • Obesity
    • Waist circumference
    • Adolescence
    • Tracking
    • HEALTH

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