Development of distinct body mass index trajectories among children before age 5 years: A population-based study

Brian A. Lynch, Lila J.Finney Rutten, Jon O. Ebbert, Seema Kumar, Barbara P. Yawn, Debra Jacobson, Jennifer St. Sauver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased over the past 3 decades. This study was designed to understand how childhood body mass index (BMI) influences later risk of obesity. We calculated BMIs for children residing in Olmsted County, Minnesota, between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2012 using medical records data. We defined homogenous BMI trajectory clusters using a nonparametric hill-climbing algorithm. Overall, 16,538 (47%) children had >3 weight assessments at least 1 year apart and were included in the analyses. Within the 8-year follow-up period, children who were younger than 2 years and overweight had a 3- fold increase of obesity (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 3.24; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.69-3.89) and those aged 5 years and overweight had a 10-fold increased risk of obesity (adjusted HR = 9.97, 95% CI = 8.55-11.62). Three distinct BMI trajectories could be distinguished prior to 5 years of age. The risk of developing obesity in those who are overweight increased dramatically with increasing age. Interventions to prevent obesity need to occur prior to school age to prevent children from entering unhealthy BMI trajectories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-284
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Adolescent
  • Body mass index
  • Child
  • Infant
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Preschool
  • Trajectories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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