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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2012, Article ID 934895, 7 pages
Research Article

Targeting Policy for Obesity Prevention: Identifying the Critical Age for Weight Gain in Women

1Population Cancer Research Program, Department of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, 1494 Carlton Street, P.O. Box 15000, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4R2
2Applied Research Collaborations for Health, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, 1318 Robie Street, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 3E2
3Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, Departments of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, IWK Health Centre, 5850/5980 University Avenue, P.O. Box 9700, Halifax, NS, Canada B3K 6R8

Received 22 August 2011; Revised 27 October 2011; Accepted 27 October 2011

Academic Editor: Ruth H. Striegel-Moore

Copyright © 2012 Trevor J. B. Dummer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The obesity epidemic requires the development of prevention policy targeting individuals most likely to benefit. We used self-reported prepregnancy body weight of all women giving birth in Nova Scotia between 1988 and 2006 to define obesity and evaluated socioeconomic, demographic, and temporal trends in obesity using linear regression. There were 172,373 deliveries in this cohort of 110,743 women. Maternal body weight increased significantly by 0.5 kg per year from 1988, and lower income and rural residence were both associated significantly with increasing obesity. We estimated an additional 82,000 overweight or obese women in Nova Scotia in 2010, compared to the number that would be expected from obesity rates of just two decades ago. The critical age for weight gain was identified as being between 20 and 24 years. This age group is an important transition age between adolescence and adulthood when individuals first begin to accept responsibility for food planning, purchasing, and preparation. Policy and public health interventions must target those most at risk, namely, younger women and the socially deprived, whilst tackling the marketing of low-cost energy-dense foods at the expense of healthier options.