Botoseneanu, Anda, and Jersey Liang. 2013. "Latent Heterogeneity in Long-Term Trajectories of Body Mass Index in Older Adults." Journal of Aging and Health, 25(2): 342-363.
Objectives: To evaluate latent heterogeneity in long-term trajectories of body weight in older adults. Methods: We analyzed 14-year longitudinal data on 10,314 older adults from the Health and Retirement Study. Semiparametric mixture models identified latent subgroups of similar trajectories of body mass index (BMI). Results: Five distinct trajectory subgroups emerged: normal starting-BMI with accelerated increase over time (trajectory #1), overweight and increasing (trajectory #2), borderline-obese and increasing (trajectory #3), obese and increasing (trajectory #4), and morbidly obese with decelerating gain (trajectory #5). Blacks and Hispanics had greater risk of membership in ascending high-BMI trajectory groups. Females had approximately half the risk of following overweight and obese increasing BMI trajectories compared with males. Discussion: Distinct latent subgroups of BMI trajectories and significant racial/ethnic and gender trajectory heterogeneity exist in the older adult population. The propensity of men and minorities to experience high-risk BMI trajectories may exacerbate existing disparities in morbidity/mortality in older age.