Effect of Adolescent Body Mass Index Trajectories on Working Memory: A Prospective Birth Cohort in Brazil

Pedro San Martin Soares, Otávio Amaral de Andrade Leão, Mariane da Silva Dias, Fernando César Wehrmeister, Ana Maria Baptista Menezes, Helen Gonçalves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most research on the association between high body mass index (BMI) and working memory (WM) has been cross-sectional in design, limiting conclusions about long-term effects of overweight and obesity on WM. The aim of this study was to examine the association of BMI trajectory from 11 to 22 years with WM at 22 years of age. Data from the 1993 Pelotas (Brazil) Birth Cohort Study were analyzed (N = 3,010). Information on BMI was collected at ages 11, 15, 18, and 22 years. Group-based trajectory modeling was used separately for each sex to identify BMI trajectories. Working Memory performance (Digit Span backward score) was examined at age 22. Multiple linear regression was used to assess the association between BMI trajectory from 11 to 22 years and WM at age 22. In both sexes, the trajectory groups were: stable normal weight, stable overweight, and stable obesity. In the adjusted analyses, women in the stable-obesity group had lower WM at 22 years (β = −.49; 95% CI: −0.75, −0.23; p <.001) than those in the stable-normal weight group. No associations were found between BMI trajectories and WM in men. This study may contribute to future investigations of possible explanatory avenues for the association between high BMI and WM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • body mass index
  • cognition
  • longitudinal
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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