A longitudinal study of pediatric body mass index values predicted health in middle age

J Clin Epidemiol. 2004 Dec;57(12):1316-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2004.04.010.


Background and objective: To characterize the use of pediatric body mass index (BMI) to predict obesity, overweight, and diseases in middle age.

Methods: A longitudinal study of people born in a week in 1958 (n=12,327). The main outcome measures are obesity (BMI > or = 30) and overweight (BMI > or = 25) at age 33 and disease history self-reported at age 42. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed using BMI measured at ages 7, 11, and 16 years as predictors.

Results: BMI values measured at age 11 could predict obesity at age 33 with areas under ROC curve (AUC) of 0.78 for males and 0.80 for females (each P < .001). BMI values at age 11 predicted overweight with slightly smaller AUC (each P < .001). They could also predict history of diabetes and hypertension (AUC=0.60 and 0.56, respectively, each P < .01), both sexes pooled. Prediction based on BMI at age 7 was less satisfactory; that at 16 gave limited improvement. Cutoff points based on ROC curves, the international reference, and the 85th and 95th percentiles gave very different profiles of diagnostic features.

Conclusion: Pediatric BMI may predict adult obesity and overweight with a reasonable profile of sensitivity and specificity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity