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Midlife Health and Socioeconomic Consequences of Persistent Overweight Across Early Adulthood: Findings From a National Survey of American Adults (1986-2008)

Publication Abstract

Clarke, Philippa J., Patrick M. O'Malley, John E. Schulenberg, and Lloyd Johnston. 2010. "Midlife Health and Socioeconomic Consequences of Persistent Overweight Across Early Adulthood: Findings From a National Survey of American Adults (1986-2008)." American Journal of Epidemiology, 172(5): 540-548.

The health consequences of obesity and overweight have been well documented, but less research has examined their social and economic consequences. This paper examines the long-term consequences of early adult overweight for midlife health and socioeconomic attainment using prospective nationally representative panel data from American adults in the Monitoring the Future Study (1986-2008). Growth mixture models identified 2 distinct latent classes of trajectories of body mass index (BMI) from age 19 to 35 years: a persistently overweight class (BMI > 25 kg/m(2)) and a second class exhibiting more moderate growth in BMI to age 35 years. Women (odds ratio (OR) = 2.16, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.39, 3.36) and those from a lower childhood socioeconomic position (OR = 1.71, 95% CI: 1.30, 2.24) were more likely to be in the persistently overweight class. Compared with those in the moderately increasing BMI class, those in the persistently overweight class were more likely to have a chronic health problem at age 40 years (OR = 2.74, 95% CI: 2.20, 3.43), to have no further education beyond high school (OR = 1.33, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.69), and to have a higher odds of receiving welfare or unemployment compensation at age 40 years (OR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.49, 2.04). These findings highlight the importance of addressing persistent obesity and overweight early in the life course.

DOI:10.1093/aje/kwq156 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC2950821. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: United States.

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