Send to

Choose Destination
Obes Rev. 2020 Jan 19. doi: 10.1111/obr.12962. [Epub ahead of print]

Changes in physical activity, diet, and body weight across the education and employment transitions of early adulthood: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Author information

UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Box 285, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, UK.
Newnham College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.


Early adulthood is a time when individuals go through important life transitions, such as moving from high school into higher education or employment, but the impact of these life transitions on changes in body weight, diet, and physical activity is not known. We searched six electronic databases to July 2019 for longitudinal observational studies providing data on adiposity, diet, and/or physical activity across education or employment transitions in young people aged between 15 and 35 years. We found 19 studies, of which 17 assessed changes in physical activity, three body weight, and five diet or eating behaviours. Meta-analysis (n=9) found that leaving high school was associated with a decrease of -7.04 (95% CI, -11.26, -2.82) min/day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Three studies reported increases in body weight on leaving high school. A small number of studies suggested decreases in diet quality on leaving high school (n=2/4 papers) and leaving university (n=1) but not on starting employment (n=1). Studies suggested no change in physical activity on leaving university (n=4) but decreases in physical activity on starting employment (n=2/3). The transition of leaving high school is an important time to support individuals to prevent decreases in physical activity and gains in body weight.


obesity; school; university; work


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center