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Youth to adult body mass index trajectories as a predictor of metabolically healthy obesity in adulthood


Smith, KJ and Magnussen, CG and Pahkala, K and Koskinen, J and Sabin, MA and Hutri-Kahonen, N and Kahonen, M and Laitinen, T and Tammelin, T and Tossavainen, P and Jokinen, E and Viikari, JSA and Juonala, M and Raitakari, OT, Youth to adult body mass index trajectories as a predictor of metabolically healthy obesity in adulthood, European Journal of Public Health, (June) pp. 1-5. ISSN 1101-1262 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 the authors

DOI: doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckz109


Background: Adiposity in childhood and adolescence (youth) has been shown to associate with adult metabolic health. What is not known, is whether youth body mass index (BMI) associates with metabolically healthy obesity (MHO) in adulthood, and if so, the age when the BMI to MHO association emerges. This study aimed to determine if BMI trajectories from youth to adulthood differed between adults with MHO and metabolically unhealthy obesity (MUHO).

Methods: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study had measured weight and height up to eight times in individuals from youth (3-18 years in 1980) to adulthood (24-49 years). Adult MHO was defined as BMI ≥ 30 kg m-2, normal fasting glucose (<5.6 mmol l-1), triglycerides (<1.695 mmol l-1), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (≥1.295 mmol l-1 females, ≥1.036 mmol l-1 males), blood pressure (<130/85 mmHg) and no medications for these conditions. BMI trajectories were compared for adults with MHO and MUHO using multilevel mixed models adjusted for age, sex and follow-up time.

Results: Mean (SD) follow-up time was 29 (3) years. Five hundred and twenty-four participants were obese in adulthood, 66 (12.6%) had MHO. BMI was similar through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. BMI trajectories diverged at age 33, when individuals with MHO had at least 1.0 kg m-2 lower BMI than those with MUHO, significantly lower at 36 (-2.1 kg m-2, P = 0.001) and 42 years (-1.7 kg m-2; P = 0.005).

Conclusion: Adult MHO was characterized by lower adult BMI, not youth BMI. Preventing additional weight gain among adults who are obese may be beneficial for metabolic health.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Cardiovascular medicine and haematology
Research Field:Cardiology (incl. cardiovascular diseases)
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Smith, KJ (Dr Kylie Smith)
UTAS Author:Magnussen, CG (Associate Professor Costan Magnussen)
ID Code:133106
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2019-06-11
Last Modified:2022-08-25

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