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Fenske, Nora; Fahrmeir, Ludwig; Rzehak, Peter and Höhle, Michael (25. September 2008): Detection of risk factors for obesity in early childhood with quantile regression methods for longitudinal data. Department of Statistics: Technical Reports, No.38 [PDF, 1MB]

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This article compares and discusses three different statistical methods for investigating risk factors for overweight and obesity in early childhood by means of the LISA study, a recent German birth cohort study with 3097 children. Since the definition of overweight and obesity is typically based on upper quantiles (90% and 97%) of the age specific body mass index (BMI) distribution, our aim was to model the influence of risk factors and age on these quantiles while as far as possible taking the longitudinal data structure into account. The following statistical regression models were chosen: additive mixed models, generalized additive models for location, scale and shape (GAMLSS), and distribution free quantile regression models. The methods were compared empirically by cross-validation and for the data at hand no model could be rated superior. Motivated by previous studies we explored whether there is an age-specific skewness of the BMI distribution. The investigated data does not suggest such an effect, even after adjusting for risk factors. Concerning risk factors, our results mainly confirm results obtained in previous studies. From a methodological point of view, we conclude that GAMLSS and distribution free quantile regression are promising approaches for longitudinal quantile regression, requiring, however, further extensions to fully account for longitudinal data structures.

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