Objective: To study changes in lifestyle in relation to changes in body weight and waist circumference associated with occupational retirement in men.
Design: A prospective cohort study with 5 years of follow-up. At baseline and at follow-up, questionnaires were completed and body weight and waist circumference were measured.
Setting: The Doetinchem Cohort Study, consisting of inhabitants of Doetinchem, a town in a rural area of The Netherlands.
Subjects: In total 288 healthy men aged 50-65 years at baseline, who either remained employed or retired over follow-up.
Results: The effect of retirement on changes in weight and waist circumference was dependent on type of former occupation. Increase in body weight and waist circumference was higher among men who retired from active jobs (0.42 kg year(-1) and 0.77 cm year(-1), respectively) than among men who retired from sedentary jobs (0.08 kg year(-1) and 0.23 cm year(-1), respectively). Weight gain and increase in waist circumference were associated with a decrease in fruit consumption and fibre density of the diet, with an increase in frequency of eating breakfast, and with a decrease in several physical activities, such as household activities, bicycling, walking and doing odd jobs.
Conclusion: Retirement was associated with an increase in weight and waist circumference among those with former active jobs, but not among those with former sedentary jobs. Retirement may bring opportunities for healthy changes in diet and physical activity, which could be used in health promotion programmes.