Who Doesn’t Gain Weight? An Australian Study

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
July/August 2003 Volume 14, Number 4
©2003 Gürze Books

Early adulthood, a time of many life changes for women, is also a time when many women gain weight, especially those who are already overweight. Because of this, early adulthood may be an important time for promoting healthy weight control, according to Dr. K. Bell and colleagues at Deakin University, Victoria, Australia (Int J Obesity 2002; 26:1570).

This population-based study examined baseline and 4-year follow-up data from a group of 8,726 women in their early 20s who are participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. This ongoing study evaluates such factors as height, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, food and alcohol consumption, patterns of disordered eating, parity, and smoking.

More than half gained weight over the 4 years

At follow-up, fewer than half the women had maintained their baseline weight. Only 44% of the women reported that their BMI was within 5% of their baseline BMI (“maintainers”). Forty-one percent of the women had gained weight and 15% had lost weight. Those who had maintained their weight were more likely to be in managerial or professional occupations, never to have married, and never to have had children. When the researchers controlled for sociodemographic statistics, weight maintainers were more likely to be in a healthy weight range at baseline and to report that they spent less time sitting and ate fewer fast food meals than the women who had gained weight.

Some of the suggested strategies to help women avoid gaining weight in early adulthood is to encourage them to be less sedentary and to eat fewer fast food meals.

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