Body mass index at age 25 and all-cause mortality in whites and African Americans: The atherosclerosis risk in communities study

June Stevens, Kimberly P. Truesdale, Chin Hua Wang, Jianwen Cai, Eva Erber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: Approximately 20% of young adults in the United States are obese, and most of them gain weight between young and middle adulthood. Few studies have examined the association between elevated body mass index (BMI) in early adulthood and mortality or have examined that such effects are independent of changes in weight. To our knowledge, no such study has been conducted in African-American samples. Methods: We used data from 13,941 African-American and white adults who self-reported their weight at the age of 25, and had weight and height measured when they were 4564 years of age (19871989). Date of death was ascertained between 1987 and 2005. Hazard ratios and hazard differences for the effects of BMI at age 25 on all-cause mortality were determined using Cox proportional hazard and additive hazard models, respectively. Results: In the combined ethnicgender groups, the hazard ratio associated with a 5 kg/m 2 increase in BMI at age 25 was 1.28 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.221.35), and the hazard difference was 2.75 (2.013.50) deaths/1,000 person-years. Associations were observed in all four ethnicgender groups. Models including weight change from age 25 to age in 19871989 resulted in null estimates for BMI in African-American men, whereas associations were maintained or only mildly attenuated in other ethnicgender groups. Conclusions: Excess weight during young adulthood should be avoided because it contributes to increases in death rates that may be independent of changes in weight experienced in later life. Further study is needed to better understand these associations in African-American men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-227
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • BMI
  • Mortality
  • Risk difference
  • Risk ratio
  • White Americans
  • Young adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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