Changes in weight and health-related quality of life. The Doetinchem Cohort Study

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2014 May;68(5):471-7. doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-203127. Epub 2014 Jan 2.


Background: The cross-sectional association between obesity and a lower health-related quality of life (HRQL) is clear. However, less is known about the association between changes in weight and HRQL. We examined the association between weight changes and changes in HRQL in a population-based sample of 2005 men and 2130 women aged 26-70 years.

Methods: Weight was measured two or three times with 5-year intervals between 1995 and 2009, and was categorised as stable (change ≤2 kg, 40%), weight loss (19%), or weight gain 2.1-4.0 kg, 4.1-6.0 kg, or >6 kg (41%). Changes in HRQL (SF36 questionnaire, including physical and mental scales) per weight change category were compared with a stable weight using generalised estimating equations.

Results: Weight gain was associated with declines of up to 5 points on five mainly physical scales and holds for different age categories. Especially for women, a dose-response relationship was observed, that is, larger weight gain was associated with larger declines in HRQL. Changes in HRQL for those with weight loss were small, but particularly on the mental scales, changes were in the negative direction compared to a stable weight.

Conclusions: Weight gain and weight loss were associated with unfavourable changes in HRQL compared with a stable weight. For weight gain, this was most pronounced on the physical scales and for weight loss, although less consistent, on the mental scales.

Keywords: Ageing; Cohort studies; Epidemiology; Obesity; Quality Of Life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Weight Loss