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The Natural History of the Development of Obesity in a Cohort of Young U.S. Adults between 1981 and 1998

Kathleen M. McTigue, MD, MS, MPH; Joanne M. Garrett, PhD; and Barry M. Popkin, PhD
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From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Acknowledgments: Dr. McTigue thanks the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program for its support. The authors thank Tom Swasey for graphical assistance.

Grant Support: By the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD39183).

Requests for Single Reprints: Kathleen McTigue, MD, MS, MPH, 5034 Old Clinic Building, CB#7105, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7105; e-mail, kathleen_mctigue@unc.edu.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. McTigue: 5034 Old Clinic Building, CB#7105, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7105.

Dr. Garrett: 5039 Old Clinic Building, #7110, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7105.

Dr. Popkin: Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, University Square East, CB#8120, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-3997.

Author Contributions: Conception and design: K.M. McTigue.

Analysis and interpretation of the data: K.M. McTigue, J.M. Garrett.

Drafting of the article: K.M. McTigue.

Critical revision of the article for important intellectual content: K.M. McTigue, J.M. Garrett.

Final approval of the article: K.M. McTigue, J.M. Garrett.

Provision of study materials or patients: K.M. McTigue.

Statistical expertise: K.M. McTigue, J.M. Garrett.

Obtaining of funding: K.M. McTigue.

Administrative, technical, or logistic support: B.M. Popkin.


Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(12):857-864. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-136-12-200206180-00006
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Much attention has been focused on the role of weight loss in treating chronic health conditions, especially diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Yet, the development of weight problems in adults has not been well described. This study uses unique longitudinal data from a large random sample of Hispanic, black, and white young adults to show substantial obesity incidence in early adulthood. We found that differences based on race or ethnicity were due to differential pediatric and young adult weight gain. Individuals at high risk for obesity could be identified at entry to adulthood. In addition, a 2-year increment in birth year was linked with more rapid onset of obesity.

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obesity

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Figures

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Figure 1.
Mean age-specific body mass index (BMI), based on age and birth cohort.nn

Circles represent mean BMI for people born in 1964 ( = 1228), and squares represent mean BMI for people born in 1957 ( = 1196). Error bars represent 95% CIs.

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Figure 2.
Mean age-specific body mass index (BMI), based on sex and race or ethnicity.
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Figure 3.
Kaplan–Meier survivor curves: time to obesity for 17- and 18-year-old men and women who were not obese.
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Figure 4.
Observed obesity at age 35 to 37 years in relationship to baseline body mass index (BMI) at age 20 to 22 years.

Within each ethnic group and 2-point range of baseline BMI at age 20 to 22 years, bar height represents the proportion of persons who reached obesity at age 35 to 37 years.

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Summary for Patients

The Development of Obesity in Young U.S. Adults, 1981–1998

The summary below is from the full report titled “The Natural History of the Development of Obesity in a Cohort of Young U.S. Adults between 1981 and 1998.” It is in the 18 June 2002 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 136, pages 857-864). The authors are KM McTigue, JM Garrett, and BM Popkin.

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