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Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Sep 1;172(5):540-8. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq156. Epub 2010 Jul 7.

Midlife health and socioeconomic consequences of persistent overweight across early adulthood: findings from a national survey of American adults (1986-2008).

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  • 1Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248, USA.


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.

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