Developmental trajectories of childhood obesity and risk behaviors in adolescence

J Adolesc. 2013 Feb;36(1):139-48. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Friends
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Risk-Taking*