Objective: To examine factors associated with weight change and obesity risk in young and middle-aged adults.
Subjects/methods: The Young Finns Study with its 923 women and 792 men aged 24-39 years at baseline were followed for six years. Variables associated with the weight change were investigated with regression models.
Results: The average weight change was 0.45 kg/year in women and 0.58 kg/year in men. In women, weight change was steady across all ages. In men, weight changes were more pronounced in younger age groups. In women (weight gain > 2 kg, n = 490), medication for anxiety, low occupational status, high baseline BMI (body mass index), high intake of sweet beverages, high childhood BMI, high salt (NaCl and/or KCl) use, low number of children, low childhood family income, high stature and low level of dependence (a temperament subscale) were associated with increased weight gain (in the order of importance). In men (weight gain > 2 kg, n = 455), high stature, high intake of french fries, low intake of sweet cookies, young age, recent divorce, low intake of cereals, high intake of milk, depressive symptoms, rural childhood origin, high baseline BMI and unemployment were associated with more pronounced weight gain. Sedentarity (screen-time) was associated with weight gain only in young men. Physical activity and genetic risk for high BMI (score of 31 known variants) were not consistently associated with weight change.
Conclusions: Socio-economic factors, temperamental and physical characteristics, and some dietary factors are related with weight change in young/middle-aged adults. The weight change occurring in adulthood is also determined by childhood factors, such as high BMI and low family income.
Keywords: Adiposity; adult; overweight; population; risk factors; weight gain; weight loss; young adult.