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NHLBI Obesity Research

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Growth and Health Study (NGHS)

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study (NGHS) was an observational study initiated in 1985 by NHLBI. The purpose was to examine factors associated with development of obesity and related cardiovascular disease risk factors in a cohort of 1,213 African-American and 1,166 white girls. Annual visits were conducted from 9 to 10 years of age through 18 to 19 years of age. Three field centers, located in San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Washington, D.C., and a central data coordinating center were funded. Clinical assessments included anthropometric measures, blood pressure, and stage of pubertal maturation. The factors studied included diet, physical activity, socioeconomic status, and familial and psychosocial influences. Risk factors measured included body weight, cigarette smoking, blood lipids, and blood pressure.

Some of the main findings were that the largest accrual of body fat occurred around the onsets of puberty and menarche. After age 12, African-American girls were significantly more overweight or obese than white girls. Earlier menarche was found to confer an additional risk for greater gain in adiposity in both white and African-American girls. These results indicate that significant race-ethnic divergence in adiposity occurred during early adolescence.

Selected Publications:

Kimm SY, Glynn NW, Obarzanek E, et al. Relation between the changes in physical activity and body-mass index during adolescence: a multicentre longitudinal study. Lancet. 2005 Jul 23-29;366(9482):301-7.

Schmidt M, Affenito SG, Striegel-Moore R, et al. Fast-food intake and diet quality in black and white girls: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Jul;159(7):626-31.

Kimm SY, Glynn NW, Kriska AM, et al. Decline in physical activity in black girls and white girls during adolescence. N Engl J Med. 2002 Sep 5;347(10):709-15.

Kimm SY, Barton BA, Obarzanek E, et al. Racial divergence in adiposity during adolescence: The NHLBI Growth and Health Study. Pediatrics. 2001 Mar;107(3):E34.

Last Updated March 2011

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