The objective of this study was to determine whether change in physical activity was associated with maintaining a healthy weight from childhood to adulthood. This prospective cohort study examined 1,594 young Australian adults (48.9% female) aged 27–36 years who were first examined at age 9–15 years as part of a national health and fitness survey. BMI was calculated from measured height and weight, and physical activity was self-reported at both time points; pedometers were also used at follow-up. Change in physical activity was characterized by calculating the difference between baseline and follow-up z-scores. Change scores were categorized as decreasing (large, moderate), stable, or increasing (large, moderate). Healthy weight was defined in childhood as a BMI less than international overweight cutoff points, and in adulthood as BMI<25 kg/m2. Healthy weight maintainers were healthy weight at both time points. Compared with those who demonstrated large relative decreases in physical activity, females in all other groups were 25–37% more likely to be healthy weight maintainers, although associations differed according to the physical activity measure used at follow-up and few reached statistical significance. Although younger males whose relative physical activity moderately or largely increased were 27–34% more likely to be healthy weight maintainers than those whose relative physical activity largely decreased, differences were not statistically significant. In conclusion, relatively increasing and stable physical activity from childhood to adulthood was only weakly associated with healthy weight maintenance. Examining personal, social, and environmental factors associated with healthy weight maintenance will be an important next step in understanding why some groups avoid becoming overweight.
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