Modern Methods for Modeling Change in Obesity Research in Nursing

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Persons receiving treatment for weight loss often demonstrate heterogeneity in lifestyle behaviors and health outcomes over time. Traditional repeated measures approaches focus on the estimation and testing of an average temporal pattern, ignoring the interindividual variability about the trajectory. An alternate person-centered approach, group-based trajectory modeling, can be used to identify distinct latent classes of individuals following similar trajectories of behavior or outcome change as a function of age or time and can be expanded to include time-invariant and time-dependent covariates and outcomes. Another latent class method, growth mixture modeling, builds on group-based trajectory modeling to investigate heterogeneity within the distinct trajectory classes. In this applied methodologic study, group-based trajectory modeling for analyzing changes in behaviors or outcomes is described and contrasted with growth mixture modeling. An illustration of group-based trajectory modeling is provided using calorie intake data from a single-group, single-center prospective study for weight loss in adults who are either overweight or obese.

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