Patterns and correlates of multiple risk behaviors in overweight women

Prev Med. 2008 Mar;46(3):196-202. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2007.10.005. Epub 2007 Oct 18.


Background: Knowledge about the prevalence, co-occurrence, and correlates of lifestyle related behaviors of overweight women is needed to inform the design of health promotion interventions for weight loss.

Methods: Cross-sectional study involves 394 overweight and obese women, aged 18 to 55 (mean age=41.26), 39% from minority backgrounds, recruited through primary care clinics for a weight loss trial. Dependent variables were the proportion meeting recommended levels of physical activity (measured with an Actigraph), percent calories from fat, and servings of fruits and vegetables (assessed with a Food Frequency Questionnaire, FFQ) and accumulating less than 8 h/day of sedentary time for sedentary behavior (Actigraph). Covariates included socio-demographics, psychosocial variables, diet behaviors, and depression.

Results: Seventy-five percent of the sample did not engage in at least 30 min/day of physical activity, and 56% spent less than 8 h/day in sedentary activities. About 76% and 79% of the sample did not meet the dietary fat, and fruits and vegetable consumption guidelines, respectively. Two-thirds of the sample had three or more risk factors. Being employed full-time, lower education level, less use of physical activity change strategies, and low levels of social support were associated with higher likelihood of having a greater total number of health risk behaviors.

Conclusion: Nearly 80% of the sample had multiple lifestyle risk behaviors. Poor dietary behaviors were present in all of the most prevalent risk behavior combinations. Lower socioeconomic and educational status and family and employment obligations characterize overweight and obese women with unhealthy activity and dietary behaviors in need of health promotion interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Psychology
  • Risk-Taking
  • Social Support