Objectives: To describe the prevalence and co-occurrence of lifestyle risk factors for chronic disease by family origin.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis.
Setting: Multiethnic, low-income, urban neighborhoods in Montreal, Canada.
Participants: 2033 adults (42.2% male), mean age 39.7 (standard deviation 6.4) years
Outcome measures: Smoking, level of physical activity, dietary habits, body mass index.
Methods: Subjects completed self-report questionnaires on sociodemographic characteristics, height, weight, and lifestyle behaviors. We tested family origin (based on language first learned in childhood and country of birth) as an independent correlate of co-occurrence (having at least two lifestyle risk factors) in multivariate logistic regression analyses.
Results: The prevalence of smoking and poor diet was highest among participants of French Canadian family origin. Although physical inactivity was uniformly high across family origins, it was highest among participants of Portuguese, Italian, and Haitian family origin. Obesity was highest among Europeans. The prevalence of smoking was lowest among Haitians; poor diet was lowest among South Asians; and physical inactivity was lowest among Eastern Europeans. Obesity was lowest among Asians, with the exception that 55.9% of South Asians were overweight or obese. Relative to French Canadians, adults in all other family-origin groups had a lower risk of co-occurrence of lifestyle risk factors. Adults of Asian family origin had the lowest prevalence of co-occurrence of lifestyle risk factors.
Conclusion: Variation in the distribution of lifestyle risk factors may explain in part differences in chronic disease morbidity and mortality across ethnic groups. Prevention programs should take differential distribution of lifestyle risk factors by ethnicity into account.