To investigate the dynamics of body mass index (BMI) and height changes in childhood leading to obesity in adolescents. BMI Z-scores were calculated using the LMS (lambda–mu–sigma) method based on yearly height and weight information (age 1.5–15 years) from a nationwide Japanese birth cohort that started in 2001 (n = 26,711). We delineated the trajectories of BMI and height changes leading to obesity at age 15 years using mixed effect models. Children who became obese at the age of 15 years kept relatively high BMI z-scores through childhood for both genders, and had an increasing trend over time as opposed to the normal weight group, with an increasing slope during puberty. Early adiposity rebound was associated with overweight or obesity at the age of 15 years. Age at peak height velocity (APHV) occurred earlier in the obese/overweight group at age 15 years than in the normal weight group, and occurred later in the underweight group. Obese adolescents experienced early adiposity rebound timing and maintained a serial BMI z-score increase throughout childhood, with a greater slope at puberty. An earlier peak in height gain during puberty may have contributed to the observed patterns of BMI change.
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