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Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):445-8.

Body mass index is increasing faster among taller persons.

Author information

  • 1RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, USA. dcohen@rand.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

During the past 40 y, there has been a trend toward more eating away from home, increased food availability, the opportunity to order extra-large portion sizes, and general weight gain.

OBJECTIVE:

Because shorter people need fewer calories than taller people to maintain their weight, our goal was to determine whether the body mass index (BMI)-height relation has changed over time.

DESIGN:

Data are from 3581 nonpregnant women and 3091 men examined in the 1959-1962 National Health Examination Survey and 4651 nonpregnant women and 4691 men examined in the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. We tested whether the relation between BMI and height has changed for men and women, after adjustment for other demographic changes.

RESULTS:

In the past, on average, shorter American men and women had significantly higher BMIs than taller people. However, taller people have been increasing their BMI during the past 40 y at a faster rate than shorter people.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study documents that the obesity epidemic has changed the height-BMI relation. The data cannot identify causal pathways, and there are numerous explanations. A plausible hypothesis is that changes in the food environment may have eliminated constraints on weight gain for taller people that existed in a more calorie-constrained environment.

PMID:
18258637
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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