Trajectories of body mass index and risk for coronary heart disease: A 38-year follow-up study

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Objective Obesity is a well-known risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD), but there is little evidence on the effect of long-term trajectories of body mass index (BMI) over the life course. By using repeated assessments, the aim was to study the risk of CHD in adults during 38 years in different trajectories of BMI. Methods A sample of 2129 men and women, aged 20-59 years at baseline, took part in four repeated interviews between 1980 and 2005. Data on BMI, medical history, lifestyle and socioeconomy were collected. Based on the World Health Organization categories of BMI, life course trajectories of stable normal weight, stable overweight, stable obesity, increasing BMI and fluctuating BMI were created. The individuals were followed through national registers for first hospitalization of CHD (389 events) until the end of 2017, and Hazard Ratios (HRs) were calculated, adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic factors, lifestyle factors and metabolic comorbidities. Results Stable normal weight in all assessments was the reference group. Those who had an increase in BMI from normal weight in the first assessment to overweight or obesity in later assessments had no increased risk of CHD, HR 1.04 (95% CI: 0.70-1.53). The HR for individuals with fluctuating BMI was 1.25 (0.97-1.61), for stable overweight 1.43 (1.03-1.98), for stable obesity 1.50 (0.92-2.55), and for stable overweight or obesity 1.45 (1.07-1.97), after full adjustments. Conclusion Having a stable overweight or obesity throughout adult life was associated with increased CHD risk but changing from normal weight at baseline to overweight or obesity was not associated with increased CHD risk. Prevention of obesity early in life may be particularly important to reduce CHD risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0258395
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10 October 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


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