Open Access Research

OBAYA (obesity and adverse health outcomes in young adults): feasibility of a population-based multiethnic cohort study using electronic medical records

Corinna Koebnick1*, Ning Smith1, Karl Huang2, Mayra P Martinez1, Heather A Clancy2, Andrew E Williams3 and Lawrence H Kushi2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, 100 Los Robles, 2nd Floor, Pasadena, CA, 91101, USA

2 Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, CA, USA

3 Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Population Health Metrics 2012, 10:15  doi:10.1186/1478-7954-10-15

Published: 21 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Although obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, we have only limited knowledge of the magnitude of these associations in young adults. A multiethnic cohort of young adults was established to close current knowledge gaps; cohort demographics, cohort retention, and the potential influence of migration bias were investigated.

Methods

For this population-based cross-sectional study, demographics, and measured weight and height were extracted from electronic medical records of 1,929,470 patients aged 20 to 39 years enrolled in two integrated health plans in California from 2007 to 2009.

Results

The cohort included about 84.4% of Kaiser Permanente California members in this age group who had a medical encounter during the study period and represented about 18.2% of the underlying population in the same age group in California. The age distribution of the cohort was relatively comparable to the underlying population in California Census 2010 population, but the proportion of women and ethnic/racial minorities was slightly higher. The three-year retention rate was 68.4%.

Conclusion

These data suggest the feasibility of our study for medium-term follow-up based on sufficient membership retention rates. While nationwide 6% of young adults are extremely obese, we know little to adequately quantify the health burden attributable to obesity, especially extreme obesity, in this age group. This cohort of young adults provides a unique opportunity to investigate associations of obesity-related factors and risk of cancer in a large multiethnic population.

Keywords:
Young adults; Obesity; Diabetes; Metabolic syndrome; Cancer; Epidemiology; Cohort study