Trajectories, predictors, and adolescent health outcomes of childhood weight gain : a growth mixture model
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Obesity, as defined as BMI at or above the 95th percentile on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s growth charts, has increased almost 3-fold among children in the United States since 1980. Overweight in adolescence has been associated with increased fat retention and high blood pressure in adulthood, among other symptoms of metabolic syndrome. However, normative patterns of weight change in childhood have not been developed. Groups of children may follow different trajectory patterns of BMI change over time. If common trajectory patterns could be identified, and their risk factors and outcomes understood, more nuanced intervention with families and children at risk for obesity could be developed. This study used a national dataset of 1,364 children whose weight and length was measured 12 times from birth through 15 ½ years. Testing both latent class growth analysis and growth mixture modeling identified four distinct subgroups, or classes, of BMI growth trajectory from 24 months – 8th grade. These classes were compared on numerous demographic, biological, and psychosocial risk factors identified in previous research as related to obesity. Classes were differentiated primarily on the child’s BMI at 15 months, the mother’s BMI at 15 months, birth weight for age, and percent increase in birth weight. Being male, Black, and lower SES were also related to membership in the higher-BMI trajectory classes. Of the psychosocial factors, maternal sensitivity, maternal depression, and attachment classification were also related to BMI class. Membership in these trajectories strongly predicted weight-related and blood-pressure outcomes at 15 ½ years over and above individual risk factors, demonstrating that patterns of change themselves are highly influential. The best-fitting models of weight-related outcomes at 15 ½ years included change trajectory in combination with biological, psychosocial, and SES risk factors from 0-24 months, with R² ranging from .31 = .50. Characteristics predicting adolescent overweight can be identified in the first years of life and should trigger the development and implementation of early intervention protocols in obstetrics and pediatrics.