International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 299–306 | Cite as

Change of individual BMI in Switzerland and the USA: a multilevel model for growth

  • Oliver LippsEmail author
  • Florence Moreau-Gruet
Original Article



The aim is to analyze and compare individual body mass index (BMI) growth patterns of adults from Switzerland and the US.


The analyses are based on data from two population representative longitudinal household surveys, one from Switzerland, the other from the US. Each data set contains up to four data points for each adult individual. We use multilevel models for growth.


It can be shown that growth patterns are different in different cohorts in the two countries: there are only small growth differences in the youngest and oldest, but large differences in the middle ages. The individual BMI increase of the middle-aged Swiss amounts to only half of that in the comparable US individuals.


Given the much higher BMI level, especially in the youngest cohort, this points to severe obesity problems in the US middle-aged population in the near future. A positive correlation between individual BMI level and growth may emphasize this fact.


Individual BMI Multilevel model for growth USA Switzerland 



Le but est d’analyser et de comparer des profils de croissance de l’IMC des adultes au niveau individuel en Suisse et aux USA.


Les analyses se basent sur les données de deux enquêtes longitudinales représentatives au niveau des ménages, l’une réalisée en Suisse et l’autre aux USA. Chaque jeu de données contient jusqu’à quatre mesures de l’IMC pour chaque individu adulte. Un modèle multiniveau de croissance est utilisé.


Les résultats montrent que les modèles de croissance de l’IMC sont différents dans les différentes cohortes entre les deux pays: il y a seulement une petite différence de croissance dans les cohortes les plus jeunes et les plus âgées, par contre il y a des différences importantes dans les âges moyens. L’accroissement de l’IMC à l’âge moyen en Suisse s’élève seulement à la moitié de celui aux USA à âge comparable.


Etant donné le niveau d’IMC nettement plus élevé aux USA, particulièrement dans les cohortes les plus jeunes, ces résultats indiquent qu’il faut s’attendre à des problèmes sévères d’obésité dans la population des USA dans un futur proche. Une corrélation positive entre l’IMC individuel et l’accroissement pourrait aggraver ce fait.


IMC individuel modèle multi-niveau d’accroissement USA Suisse 



We thank our colleagues France Weaver, Andrea Zumbrunn and Paul Camenzind from the Obsan, Brian Kleiner from FORS, and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and reviews of a former version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Foundation for Research in Social Sciences (FORS) c/o University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Health ObservatoryNeuchâtelSwitzerland

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