Associations between body mass index across adult life and hip shapes at age 60 to 64: Evidence from the 1946 British birth cohort

Stella G Muthuri, Fiona R Saunders, Rebecca J Hardy, Anastasia V Pavlova, Kathryn R Martin, Jennifer S Gregory, Rebecca J Barr, Judith E Adams, Diana Kuh, Richard M Aspden, Rachel Cooper

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the associations of body mass index (BMI) across adulthood with hip shapes at age 60-64years.

METHODS: Up to 1633 men and women from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development with repeat measures of BMI across adulthood and posterior-anterior dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry bone mineral density images of the proximal femur recorded at age 60-64 were included in analyses. Statistical shape modelling was applied to quantify independent variations in hip mode (HM), of which the first 6 were examined in relation to: i) BMI at each age of assessment; ii) BMI gain during different phases of adulthood; iii) age first overweight.

RESULTS: Higher BMI at all ages (i.e. 15 to 60-64) and greater gains in BMI were associated with higher HM2 scores in both sexes (with positive HM2 values representing a shorter femoral neck and a wider and flatter femoral head). Similarly, younger age first overweight was associated with higher HM2 scores but only in men once current BMI was accounted for. In men, higher BMI at all ages was also associated with lower HM4 scores (with negative HM4 values representing a flatter femoral head, a wider neck and smaller neck shaft angle) but no associations with BMI gain or prolonged exposure to high BMI were found. Less consistent evidence of associations was found between BMI and the other four HMs.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that BMI across adulthood may be associated with specific variations in hip shapes in early old age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
Early online date24 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding: The NSHD is funded by the UK Medical Research Council. SGM, RC, RJH and DK are supported by the UK Medical Research Council (Programme codes: MC_UU_12019/1, MC_UU_12019/2 and MC_UU_12019/4). This project was funded by the UK Medical Research Council (Grant MR/L010399/1) which supported SGM, AVP and FRS. The funders of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of this manuscript.

Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Michael Machin for his valuable assistance obtaining the images and the University of Aberdeen Data Management Team for programming support for ‘Shape’. The authors are grateful to NSHD study members who took part in the clinic data collection for their continuing support. We thank members of the NSHD scientific and data collection teams at the following centres: MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing; Wellcome Trust (WT) Clinical Research Facility (CRF) Manchester; WTCRF and Medical Physics at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh; WTCRF and Department of Nuclear Medicine at University Hospital Birmingham; WTCRF and the Department of Nuclear Medicine at University College London Hospital; CRF and the Department of Medical Physics at the University Hospital of Wales; CRF and Twin Research Unit at St Thomas' Hospital London.

Data used in this publication are available to bona fide researchers upon request to the NSHD Data Sharing Committee via a standard application procedure. Further details can be found at:; doi:; doi:


  • life course epidemiology
  • body mass index
  • hip shape
  • statistical shape modelling


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