Using group-based trajectory modeling, this study examined 5156 adolescents from the child sample of the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to identify developmental trajectories of obesity from ages 6-18 and evaluate associations of such trajectories with risk behaviors and psychosocial health in adolescence. Four distinctive obesity trajectories were identified: "Chronically Obese," "Decreasing," "Increasing," and "Non-obese." Males were overrepresented in the Chronically Obese and Increasing groups; females were overrepresented in the Decreasing group. African-Americans were overrepresented in the Chronically Obese, Increasing, and Decreasing groups; in contrast, Whites were overrepresented in the Non-obese group. Obesity trajectories were not associated with greater trends in alcohol use, marijuana use, or delinquency, but Chronically Obese adolescents showed a greater increase in cigarette smoking over time compared to other trajectories. The Increasing trajectory, representing a transition into obesity status from childhood to adolescence, was associated with poorer psychosocial health compared to other trajectories.
Copyright © 2012 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.