Age, period and cohort effects on body weight and body mass index in adults: The Doetinchem Cohort Study

Astrid C J Nooyens, Tommy L S Visscher, W M Monique Verschuren, A Jantine Schuit, Hendriek C Boshuizen, Willem van Mechelen, Jacob C Seidell

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66 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To study the development of body weight with ageing, in a general adult population, taking into account possible period and cohort effects.

DESIGN: A prospective cohort study with 11 years of follow-up. At baseline and after 6 and 11 years, body weight and height were measured.

SETTING: The Doetinchem Cohort Study, consisting of inhabitants of Doetinchem, a town in a rural area of The Netherlands.

SUBJECTS: In total, 4070 healthy men and women aged 20-59 years at baseline.

RESULTS: Increase in BMI with ageing was less profound based on cross-sectional data than based on longitudinal data. More recent-born cohorts had a higher BMI at a given age than cohorts who were born earlier. Increase in mean BMI with ageing was observed in all age groups and was similar for groups with a different educational level. Highest increase in BMI over 11 years was observed in the youngest group, aged 20-29 years at baseline (2.2 [95 % CL 2.0, 2.3] kg/m2), and lowest increase in the oldest group, aged 50-59 years at baseline (1.1 [1.0, 1.3] kg/m2).

CONCLUSIONS: Findings of the present study using longitudinal data suggest that increase in BMI with ageing is underestimated in all age groups by studying cross-sectional data only. Further, weight gain is present in all educational levels and does not stop at middle age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-70
Number of pages9
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Journal Article
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Obesity
  • Prospective Studies
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Weight Gain
  • Young Adult

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