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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Oct;16(10):2336-41. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.359. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

The interaction of childhood height and childhood BMI in the prediction of young adult BMI.

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Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the interaction of childhood height and childhood BMI in the prediction of young adult BMI. The 2,802 subjects in this study were from the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH). The subjects' heights and weights were measured in 3rd grade (mean age 8.7 years) and again in 12th grade (mean age 18.3 years). The associations and interactions between height (cm) and BMI (kg/m(2)) were assessed using mixed linear regression models with adult BMI as the dependent variable. We found a significant interaction between childhood height and childhood BMI in the prediction of adult BMI (P < 0.0001). Stratification by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reference quintiles revealed that a positive association between childhood height and adult BMI existed only for those subjects in the top quintile of childhood BMI, within whom predicted adult BMI ranged from 27.5 (95% confidence interval = 26.4-28.6) for those in the shortest height quintile to 30.2 (95% confidence interval = 29.7-30.6) for those in the highest height quintile. Among children with high BMI levels, those who were taller, as compared to those who were shorter, had significantly higher young adult BMI levels. This pattern seems primarily due to the positive association of childhood height and childhood BMI. Clinicians should recognize the risk of excess body weight in young adulthood for all children who have a high BMI, and pay special attention to those who are tall, because their childhood height will not protect them from subsequent weight gain and elevated BMI.

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