Implications of Teen Birth for Overweight and Obesity in Adulthood

In the U.S., approximately 20 percent of teen women give birth by age 20.

This study examined whether women giving birth in their teen years are more prone to overweight/obese status later in life.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, taken from five two-year cycles from 2001 through 2010, a total of 5,220 women were included in the analysis. Body mass index, age at first birth, current age, race, education, and parity were collected for each participant. At the time of the survey, the women were ages 20 to 59 and were not currently or recently pregnant. In this study, a teen birth was defined as having a live birth between the ages of 13 and 19, inclusive.

Key Findings:

  • Teen birth was associated with an increased risk of overweight, as well as obesity. In both the bivariate analyses, and in multivariate models, women with a teen birth were significantly more likely to be overweight/obese in adulthood than women without a teen birth.

It is important to consider interventions that help improve the long-term health of teenage mothers. Future studies should focus especially on those at an increased risk for obesity.

Graph from "Implications of teen birth for overweight and obesity in adulthood"

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Read about why RWJF Clinical Scholar Tammy Chang studied this topic, and the lessons she learned from the study's findings. Read the story