Predicting overweight and obesity in adulthood from body mass index values in childhood and adolescence

Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Sep;76(3):653-8. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/76.3.653.


Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) introduced the clinical use of the body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)) in growth charts for young males and females.

Objective: This study updates our previous report with the use of new CDC BMI charts and definitions of adult overweight and obesity to predict adult overweight or obesity.

Design: Logistic models were fitted to relate adult overweight and obesity to childhood and adolescent BMI values at each age for 166 males and 181 females in the Fels Longitudinal Study and were applied to predict adult overweight and obesity at the 75th, 85th, and 95th percentiles on the CDC charts of childhood and adolescent BMI.

Results: A child or adolescent with a high BMI percentile on the CDC BMI-for-age growth charts has a high risk of being overweight or obese at 35 y of age, and this risk increases with age. For example, the probability of adult obesity at the 85th percentile for young males was </=20% to 17 y of age and 20-59.9% afterward; the corresponding probability for young females was 20-39.9% to 18 y of age and 40-59.9% afterward.

Conclusion: Our clinically applicable method assigns a child's or adolescent's BMI value to a group with a known probability of overweight or obesity in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Obesity / diagnosis*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Probability
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Characteristics