Mean BMI and Rate of Obesity Increasing Among Young Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alejandra Ellison-Barnes, MD MPH
General Internal Medicine
Johns Hopkins Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Emerging adulthood is a unique period of development that ultimately leads to the formation of adult identity, but how this stage contributes to obesity is relatively understudied. The prevalence of obesity has been increasing in the United States population as a whole, and we wanted to know how mean body mass index and the prevalence of obesity have changed over the past several decades specifically among emerging adults. We found that among emerging adults aged 18 through 25, mean BMI has increased from 23.1 kg/m2 in 1976-1980 to 27.7 kg/m2 in 2017-2018. In the same period, the prevalence of obesity increased from 6.2% to 32.7%.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The rate of obesity among emerging adults aged 18 through 25 has increased significantly over the past several decades. As a period of exploration, change, and transitions that ultimately influences the remainder of an individual’s trajectory in adulthood, emerging adulthood may be an ideal time to intervene in the clinical setting to prevent, manage, or reverse obesity to prevent adverse health outcomes in the future.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should expand our understanding of the multitude of factors that lead to obesity in the emerging adult period. This will allow us to design preventive measures as well as treatment interventions tailored to this population.


Ellison-Barnes A, Johnson S, Gudzune K. Trends in Obesity Prevalence Among Adults Aged 18 Through 25 Years, 1976-2018. JAMA. 2021;326(20):2073–2074. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.16685

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Last Updated on December 9, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD