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Infant BMI trajectories are associated with young adult body composition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2012

M. M. Slining*
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
A. H. Herring
Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
B. M. Popkin
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
E. J. Mayer-Davis
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
L. S. Adair
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
*Address for correspondence: Dr M. M. Slining, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, University Square, 123 Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-3997, USA. (Email


The dynamic aspect of early life growth is not fully captured by typical analyses, which focus on one specific time period. To better understand how infant and young child growth relate to the development of adult body composition, the authors characterized body mass index (BMI) trajectories using latent class growth analysis (LCGA) and evaluated their association with adult body composition. Data are from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey, which followed a birth cohort to age 22 years (n = 1749). In both males and females, LCGA identified seven subgroups of respondents with similar BMI trajectories from 0 to 24 months (assessed with bimonthly anthropometrics). Trajectory groups were compared with conventional approaches: (1) accelerated growth between two time points (0–4 months), (2) continuous BMI gain between two points (0–4 months and 0–24 months) and (3) BMI measured at one time point (24 months) as predictors of young adult body composition measures. The seven trajectory groups were distinguished by age-specific differences in tempo and timing of BMI gain in infancy. Infant BMI trajectories were better than accelerated BMI gain between 0 and 4 months at predicting young adult body composition. After controlling for BMI at age 2 years, infant BMI trajectories still explained variation in adult body composition. Using unique longitudinal data and methods, we find that distinct infant BMI trajectories have long-term implications for the development of body composition.

Original Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2012 

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