Trajectories of body mass index in adulthood and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

Yi Yang, Pierre-Antoine Dugué, Brigid M. Lynch, Allison M. Hodge, Amalia Karahalios, Robert J. MacInnis, Roger L. Milne, Graham G. Giles, Dallas R. English

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Limited research has assessed the association between patterns of body mass index (BMI) change across adulthood and mortality. We aimed to identify groups of individuals who followed specific group-based BMI trajectories across adulthood, using weight collected on three occasions and recalled data from early adulthood, and to examine associations with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Design Prospective cohort study. Setting Melbourne, Australia. Participants Adults (n=29 881) enrolled in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, who were aged from 40 to 70 years between 1990 and 1994, and had BMI data for at least three time points. Outcome Deaths from any cause before 31 March 2017 and deaths from obesity-related cancers, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and other causes before 31 December 2013. Results We identified six group-based BMI trajectories: lower-normal stable (TR1), higher-normal stable (TR2), normal to overweight (TR3), chronic borderline obesity (TR4), normal to class I obesity (TR5) and overweight to class II obesity (TR6). Generally, compared with maintaining lower-normal BMI throughout adulthood, the lowest mortality was experienced by participants who maintained higher-normal BMI (HR 0.90; 95% CI 0.84 to 0.97); obesity during midlife was associated with higher all-cause mortality even when BMI was normal in early adulthood (HR 1.09; 95% CI 0.98 to 1.21) and prolonged borderline obesity from early adulthood was also associated with elevated mortality (HR 1.16; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.33). These associations were stronger for never-smokers and for death due to obesity-related cancers. Being overweight in early adulthood and becoming class II obese was associated with higher CVD mortality relative to maintaining lower-normal BMI (HR 2.27; 95% CI 1.34 to 3.87). Conclusion Our findings highlight the importance of weight management throughout adulthood to reduce mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere030078
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • epidemiology
  • preventive medicine
  • public health

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