Objective: To describe the prevalence of weight loss maintenance and other weight change patterns in early adulthood (ages 18-50 years), and their association with disease prevalence in older age (average age 62 years).
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Subjects: 17233 postmenopausal women aged 55-69 years.
Measurements: Weight change categories based on recalled body weight at age 18, 30, 40 and 50 years.
Results: Weight loss of 10% or more between ages 18 and 30 years followed by maintenance within 5% up to age 50 years, and weight loss of 10% or more followed by a 10% or more regain were equally common, yet rare, weight change patterns (1.6% and 1.8%, respectively). Among those who were overweight at age 18, maintaining a stable weight was associated with increased odds of diabetes (OR = 5.48) and hypertension (OR = 1.98), relative to normal weight-weight stable women. However, overweight women who lost weight had similar odds of diabetes and hypertension as normal weight-weight stable women. In both overweight and normal weight women, weight loss followed by regain was associated with higher odds of disease relative to weight stability. However, the highest odds of disease were associated with continuous weight gain or an initial weight gain that was maintained.
Conclusions: Weight gain is associated with higher odds of disease compared to weight stability, which is associated with lowest odds of disease. Weight loss maintenance in the overweight is associated with lower odds of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.