The Transition into Young Adulthood: a Critical Period for Weight Control


Purpose of Review

Emerging adulthood (age 18–25) represents a critical period for weight control: rate of weight gain is greatest during these years and the prevalence of overweight and obesity is estimated to be at least 40% among emerging adults. Unique behavioral, psychosocial, and cognitive risk factors among this population must be specifically addressed within weight management programs. We review extant treatment approaches, including lessons learned from the nascent literature specifically targeting this population. Lastly, we provide suggestions to inform future work in this area.

Recent Findings

The EARLY consortium comprises seven clinical trials targeting weight control in young adults age 18–35. Though these studies encompass a broader age range, two of the trials enrolled large numbers of 18–25-year-olds. Results from these trials and other recent pilot trials provide a foundation for next steps with respect to developing weight management interventions for emerging adults.


The design of targeted weight control approaches for emerging and young adults has contributed to improved outcomes for this high-risk population. However, suboptimal engagement and variability in response pose challenges. Identifying and intervening on individual-level behavioral and psychological variables may enhance the effects of these adapted treatments.

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Correspondence to Jessica G. LaRose.

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Autumn Lanoye, Kristal L. Brown, and Jessica G. LaRose declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article is a review of previously conducted research so this did not involve human subjects. Reviewed studies performed by the authors were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Obesity

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Lanoye, A., Brown, K.L. & LaRose, J.G. The Transition into Young Adulthood: a Critical Period for Weight Control. Curr Diab Rep 17, 114 (2017).

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  • Emerging adulthood
  • Weight management
  • Overweight
  • Obesity
  • Intervention