BACKGROUND: Many studies use information on weight histories to examine the association between body weight and mortality. A recent paper in Epidemiology (2013;25:707-710) developed a typology of the most common weight-history specifications. METHODS: We use data from a sample of Finnish adults to explore the associations of body weight and mortality, using existing specifications and also peak body mass index (BMI), a new specification. RESULTS: We confirm earlier findings that longer time in a high BMI state is predictive of mortality. Peak BMI (the highest BMI attained in life or available in the data) is also positively associated with mortality. CONCLUSIONS: The specifications of duration in a high BMI state and peak BMI are both valuable for understanding the relationship between lifetime weight dynamics and mortality. The collection of information on peak body weight may be useful when collection of more detailed weight histories is not feasible.
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