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Identifying risk factors for developing obesity: a record linkage longitudinal study in metropolitan Sydney using the 45 and Up Study.

Family Practice 2024 March 14
BACKGROUND: Primary care clinicians have key responsibilities in obesity prevention and weight management.

AIMS: We aimed to identify risk factors for developing obesity among people aged ≥45 years.

METHODS: We conducted a record linkage longitudinal study of residents of metropolitan Sydney, Australia using data from the: (1) 45 and Up Study at baseline (2005-2009) and first follow-up (2012-2015); (2) Medicare claims; (3) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme; and (4) deaths registry. We examined risk factors for developing obesity (body mass index [BMI]: 30-40) at follow-up, separately for people within the: (1) healthy weight range (BMI 18.5-<25) and (2) overweight range (BMI 25-<30) at baseline. Covariates included demographics, modifiable behaviours, health status, allied health use, and medication use. Crude and adjusted relative risks were estimated using Poisson regression modelling.

RESULTS: At follow-up, 1.1% (180/16,205) of those in the healthy weight range group, and 12.7% (1,939/15,266) of those in the overweight range group developed obesity. In both groups, the following were associated with developing obesity: current smoking at baseline, physical functioning limitations, and allied health service use through team care planning, while any alcohol consumption and adequate physical activity were found to be associated with a lower risk of developing obesity. In the healthy weight group, high psychological distress and the use of antiepileptics were associated with developing obesity. In the overweight group, female sex and full-time work were associated with developing obesity, while older age was found to be associated with a lower risk of developing obesity.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings may inform the targeting of preventive interventions for obesity in clinical practice and broader public health programs.

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