Online Program

Longitudinal patterns of obesity from adolescence to young adulthood: How do stressful life events weigh in?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bethany Wexler Rainisch, PhD, MPH, Health Sciences, California State University Northridge (CSUN), Northridge, CA
Dawn M. Upchurch, PhD, LAc, School of Public Health/ Department of Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background: The period of adolescence is a transitional developmental stage. While many individuals traverse this period relatively unscathed, a number suffer from significant health problems as a result of stressful life events (SLE).

Methods: Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) (N = 9,311), this study examined the effects of SLE during adolescence on longitudinal patterns of obesity during the transition to adulthood, separately for females and males. Patterns of obesity were categorized as: becoming obese, staying obese, or reducing obesity/staying non-obese over time. Weighted bivariate and multivariate multinomial and ordered logistic regression were employed.

Results: Both females and males showed an increase in becoming obese from adolescence to young adulthood, more so than staying obese or reducing obesity. The number of SLE experienced differed significantly by age, race/ethnicity, nativity status, and family structure. Adolescents who experienced greater numbers of SLE had the highest percentage of becoming and staying obese. However, upon controlling for demographic factors, SLE experienced did not significantly predict longitudinal patterns of obesity.

Conclusions: Although SLE during adolescence were positively associated with patterns of obesity, other sociodemographic factors appear to play a more important role. Future research may benefit from exploring alternate mechanisms through which obesity patterns occur from adolescence to young adulthood. These findings contribute to those within the stress and obesity literature, specifically including the period of the transition to adulthood.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health biology
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe and analyze longitudinal patterns of obesity from adolescence to young adulthood. Identify stressful life events during adolescence that may influence patterns of obesity. Assess whether stressful life events during adolescence play a significant role in patterns of obesity.

Keyword(s): Adolescent Health, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: my research focuses on adolescent stress and health across the life course.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.