Conflict of interest: All authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Brief Cutting Edge Report
Parity and body mass index in US women: A prospective 25-year study
Article first published online: 22 AUG 2013
Copyright © 2013 The Obesity Society
Volume 21, Issue 8, pages 1514–1518, August 2013
How to Cite
Abrams, B., Heggeseth, B., Rehkopf, D. and Davis, E. (2013), Parity and body mass index in US women: A prospective 25-year study. Obesity, 21: 1514–1518. doi: 10.1002/oby.20503
- Issue published online: 22 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 22 AUG 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 29 APR 2013 08:21AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 MAR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 3 JAN 2013
To investigate long-term body mass index (BMI) changes associated with childbearing.
Design and Methods
Adjusted mean BMI changes were estimated by race-ethnicity, baseline BMI, and parity using longitudinal regression models for 3,943 young females over 10 and 25 year follow-up from the ongoing 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth cohort.
Estimated BMI increases varied by group, ranging from a low of 2.1 BMI units for white, non-overweight nulliparas over the first 10 years to a high of 10.1 BMI units for black, overweight multiparas over the full 25-year follow-up. Impacts of parity were strongest among overweight multiparas and primaparas at 10 years, ranges 1.4-1.7 and 0.8-1.3 BMI units, respectively. Among non-overweight women, parity-related gain at 10 years varied by number of births among black and white but not Hispanic women. After 25 years, childbearing significantly increased BMI only among overweight multiparous black women.
Childbearing is associated with permanent weight gain in some women, but the relationship differs by maternal BMI in young adulthood, number of births, race-ethnicity, and length of follow-up. Given that overweight black women may be at special risk for accumulation of permanent, long-term weight after childbearing, effective interventions for this group are particularly needed.