Tracking of fatness during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood: a 7-year follow-up study in Madeira Island, Portugal

Ann Hum Biol. 2012 Jan;39(1):59-67. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2011.638322. Epub 2011 Dec 12.


Aims: Investigating tracking of fatness from childhood to adolescence, early adolescence to young adulthood and late adolescence to young adulthood.

Subjects and methods: Participants from the Madeira Growth Study were followed during an average period of 7.2 years. Height, body mass, skin-folds and circumferences were measured, nine health- and performance-related tests were administered and the Baecke questionnaire was used to assess physical activity. Skeletal maturity was estimated using the TW3 method.

Results: The prevalence of overweight plus obesity ranged from 8.2-20.0% at baseline and from 20.4-40.0% at follow-up, in boys. Corresponding percentages for girls were 10.6-12.0% and 13.2-18.0%. Inter-age correlations for fatness indicators ranged from 0.43-0.77. BMI, waist circumference and sum of skin-folds at 8, 12 and 16-years old were the main predictors of these variables at 15, 19 and 23-years old, respectively. Strength, muscular endurance and aerobic fitness were negatively related to body fatness. Physical activity and maturation were independently associated with adolescent (15 years) and young adult (19 years) fatness.

Conclusions: Over 7.2 years, tracking was moderate-to-high for fatness. Variance was explained by fatness indicators and to a small extent by physical fitness, physical activity and maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Physical Fitness
  • Portugal / epidemiology
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology
  • Waist Circumference / physiology
  • Young Adult