CitationNagata, Jason M.; Bibbins-Domingo, Kirsten; Garber, Andrea K.; Griffiths, Scott; Vittinghoff, Eric; & Murray, Stuart B. (2019). Weight gain attempts, muscle-building behaviors, and future weight change among young adults in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent To Adult Health. Psychological Well-Being: International Transcultural Perspective. Washington, DC: Journal of Adolescent Health.
AbstractPurpose Research on weight gain attempts in young adults is limited, and has not yet been examined using nationally representative samples in the US. The objectives of this study were 1) to determine the prevalence of weight gain attempts, and 2) to identify their association with BMI and weight change at seven-year follow-up using a nationally representative sample of young adults. Methods We used longitudinal cohort data from Wave III (18-26 years old) and Wave IV (24-32 years old) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). We analyzed self-reported weight gain attempts and behaviors at Wave III and anthropometric data at Waves III and IV to determine BMI and weight change at seven-year follow-up. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to determine the association between muscle-building behaviors and BMI and weight change at seven-year follow-up, adjusting for race/ethnicity, sex, age, education, smoking, and fast food consumption. Results Of the 15,197 young adults aged 18-26 years old, 26.5% of young men reported attempts to gain weight, including 39.5% of men who were normal weight, 21.5% who were overweight, and 7.9% who were obese by BMI. By contrast, only 4.6% of women reported attempts to gain weight. Young men reported behaviors such as lifting weights (15.7%); legal performance enhancing substances such as creatine, monohydrate, and androstenedione (15.7%); and androgenic anabolic steroids (2.7%). Multivariate logistic regression analyses demonstrated that Black/African American males (Odds ratio [OR] 2.40; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.84-3.13) had greater odds of weight gain attempts than White males. Adolescent males identifying as homosexual or bisexual had lower odds (OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.25 – 0.84) of weight gain attempts than adolescent males identifying as heterosexual. Young men who reported weightlifting to bulk up had less BMI (B= -0.33 kg/m2, p=0.023) and weight (B= -0.87 kg, p=0.036) gain at seven-year follow-up compared to those not reporting weightlifting, adjusting for baseline BMI, race/ethnicity, sex, age, education, smoking, and fast food. Performance enhancing substances and anabolic steroids were not associated with BMI or weight change at seven-year follow-up. Conclusions Weight gain attempts and muscle-building behaviors are common among young men including those who are normal weight, overweight or obese, African American men, and those self-identifying as heterosexual. Weightlifting with the intention of bulking up was associated with less BMI and weight gain at seven-year follow-up. Future research should examine the long-term health effects of muscle-building behaviors. Consideration of the unique nature of male body image and weight gain attempts should be incorporated into primary care screening for young men.
NotesPublished February online
Reference TypeConference proceeding
Book TitlePsychological Well-Being: International Transcultural Perspective
Author(s)Nagata, Jason M.
Garber, Andrea K.
Murray, Stuart B.