Weight status in childhood as a predictor of becoming overweight or hypertensive in early adulthood

Obes Res. 2005 Jan;13(1):163-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2005.21.


Objective: To assess the extent to which weight status in childhood or adolescence predicts becoming overweight or hypertensive by young adulthood.

Research methods and procedures: We conducted a prospective study of 314 children, who were 8 to 15 years old at baseline, and were followed up 8 to 12 years later. Weight, height, and blood pressure were measured by trained research staff. Incident overweight was defined as BMI>or=25 kg/m2 among participants who had not been overweight as children.

Results: More male subjects (48.3%) than female subjects (23.5%) became overweight or obese between their first childhood visit and the young adult follow-up (p<0.001). Being in the upper one half of the normal weight range (i.e., BMI between the 50th and 84th percentiles for age and gender in childhood) was a good predictor of becoming overweight as a young adult. Compared with children with a BMI<50th percentile, girls and boys between the 50th and 74th percentiles of BMI were approximately 5 times more likely [boys, odds ratio (OR)=5.3, p=0.002; girls, OR=4.8, p=0.07] and those with a BMI between the 75th and 84th percentiles were up to 20 times more likely (boys, OR=4.3, p=0.02; girls, OR=20.2, p=0.001) to become overweight. The incidence of high blood pressure was greater among the male subjects (12.3% vs. 1.9%). Compared with boys who had childhood BMI below the 75th percentile, boys between the 75th and 85th percentiles of BMI as children were four times more likely (OR=3.6) and those at above the 85th percentile were five times more likely (OR=5.1) to become hypertensive.

Discussion: High normal weight status in childhood predicted becoming overweight or obese as an adult. Also, among the boys, elevated BMI in childhood predicted risk of hypertension in young adulthood.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies