We examined heterogeneity in BMI trajectory classes among youth and variables that may be associated with trajectory class membership. We used data from seven rounds (1997–2003) of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97), a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of people born between 1980 and 1984 who were living in the United States in 1997. The analyses were based on an accelerated longitudinal design. General growth mixture modeling implemented in Mplus (version 4.1) was used to identify subtypes of youth BMI growth trajectories over time. Four distinct youth BMI trajectories were identified. Class 1 includes youth at high risk for becoming obese by young adulthood (at age 12 and 23, ~67 and 90%, respectively, are classified as obese, and almost 72% will have had a BMI 40 at some time during this developmental period). Class 2 includes youth at moderate-to-high risk (at age 12 and 23, ~55 and 68%, respectively, are classified as obese). Class 3 includes youth at low-to-moderate risk (i.e., at age 12 and 23, ~8 and 27%, respectively, are classified as obese). Class 4 includes youth at low risk (few of these youth are obese at any age during this developmental period). These results highlight the importance of considering heterogeneity in BMI growth among youth and early interventions among those most at risk of the adverse health consequences of excess weight.
Youth BMI trajectories: Evidence from the NLSY97