Predictors of weight stability in women and men: The aerobic center longitudinal study, 1987-1995

Suzanne Brodney Folse, The University of Texas School of Public Health


It is estimated that more than half the U.S. adult population is overweight or obese as classified by a body mass index of 25.0–29.9 or ≥30 kg/m 2, respectively. Since the current treatment approaches for long-term maintenance of weight loss are lacking, the National Institutes of Health state that an effective approach may be to focus on weight gain prevention. There is a limited body of literature describing how adults maintain a stable weight as they age. It is hypothesized that weight stability is the result of a balance between energy consumption and energy expenditure as influenced by diet, lifestyle, behavior, genetics and environment. The purpose of this research was to examine the dietary intake and behaviors, lifestyle habits, and risk factors for weight change that predict weight stability in a cohort of 2101 men and 389 women aged 20 to 8 7 years in the Aerobic Center Longitudinal Study regardless of body weight at baseline. At baseline, participants completed a maximal exercise treadmill test to determine cardiorespiratory fitness, a medical history questionnaire, which included self-reported measures of weight, dietary behaviors, lifestyle habits, and risk factors for weight change, a three-day diet record, and a mail-back version of the medical history questionnaire in 1990 or 1995. All analyses were performed separately for men and women. Results from multivariate regression analyses indicated that the strongest predictor of follow-up weight for men and women was previous weight, accounting for 87.0% and 81.9% of the variance, respectively. Age, length of follow-up and eating habits were also significant predictors of follow-up weight in men, though these variables only explained 3% of the variance. For women, length of follow-up and currently being on a diet were significantly associated with follow-up weight but these variables explained only an additional 2% of the variance. Understanding the factors that influence weight change has tremendous public health importance for developing effective methods to prevent weight gain. Since current weight was the strongest predictor of previous weight, preventing initial weight gain by maintaining a stable weight may be the most effective method to combat the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Public health

Recommended Citation

Folse, Suzanne Brodney, "Predictors of weight stability in women and men: The aerobic center longitudinal study, 1987-1995" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9981808.