Weight status in adolescence is associated with later life functional limitations

J Aging Health. 2013 Aug;25(5):758-75. doi: 10.1177/0898264313491426. Epub 2013 Jun 10.


Objective: This study examines the relationship between weight status in adolescence and later life functional limitations.

Method: We use the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study to characterize the relationship between standardized relative body mass ascertained from high school photograph portraits in 1957 and self-reported functional imitations in 2004.

Results: Compared to individuals with normal body mass, those who were overweight in high school had poorer later life physical function, with observed gender differences. Women who were underweight in adolescence had better functioning in older adulthood than their normal weight counterparts. This relationship, however, was not found among men.

Conclusions: These findings underscore the long-term consequences of being overweight in adolescence on the functional disadvantages conferred in late life.

Keywords: adolescence; functional limitations; late life health; lifecourse; overweight; physical function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adolescent
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Wisconsin