Executive Function and BMI Trajectories Among Rural, Poor Youth at High Risk for Obesity

Brandi Y. Rollins, Nathaniel R. Riggs, Lori A. Francis, Clancy B. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of this study was to identify longitudinal trajectories of conjoint development of executive function (EF) and obesity among a diverse sample of poor, rural youth and to evaluate individual differences in infant growth, parental BMI, and cumulative risk. Methods: Participants included 948 youth from the Family Life Project. Child anthropometrics were measured at 2 and 6 months and at 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 12 years. EF tasks were administered at 3, 4, and 5 years. Mothers reported youth birth weight, parental height and weight, and cumulative risk indicators. Results: Multidimensional growth mixture modeling identified three classes: “High EF – High Obesity Resilience”; “Low EF – Delayed-Onset Severe Obesity”; and “Low EF – Early-Onset Severe Obesity.” Youth in the low-EF, early-onset class displayed higher birth weight and BMI at 6 months, whereas the low-EF, delayed-onset class had rapid weight gain during infancy, parents with class II obesity, and greater cumulative risk and was more likely to be Black and female. Conclusions: Despite increased obesity risk among this sample, the majority of youth exhibited higher EF and some degree of obesity resilience. Youth with EF deficits displayed the greatest risk for severe obesity but had differing BMI trajectories and obesity risk profiles, which has implications for obesity intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-387
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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