Implications of teen birth for overweight and obesity in adulthood

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to examine whether teen birth was independently associated with overweight and obesity in a US cohort.

STUDY DESIGN: We examined whether teen birth is independently associated with overweight and obesity in a multiyear US cohort using the 2001-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey of the US civilian, noninstitutionalized population. We performed multinomial logistic regression adjusting for survey cohort, age at survey, race, education, and parity. We included women 20-59 years old at the time of survey, with at least 1 live birth, not currently or recently pregnant (unweighted, n = 5220; weighted, n = 48.4 million). Our outcome measure was the effect of teen birth on subsequent overweight and obesity.

RESULTS: In bivariate analyses, women with a teen birth were significantly more likely than women without a teen birth to be overweight (relative risk ratios [RRRs], 1.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.37-1.90) or obese (RRR, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.56-2.16) at the time of the survey. In multivariate models, women with a teen birth remained significantly more likely to be overweight (adjusted RRR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.10-1.62) or obese (adjusted RRR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.09-1.61) than women without a teen birth.

CONCLUSION: For women in the United States, giving birth as a teen is associated with subsequent overweight/obese status later in life. To inform clinical and policy interventions with the goal to improve the long-term health of teenage mothers, future studies must examine modifiable physiological and sociomedical reasons for early childbearing and later risk of obesity.