Trends in selected chronic conditions and behavioral risk factors among women of reproductive age, behavioral risk factor surveillance system, 2001-2009

Prev Chronic Dis. 2011 Nov;8(6):A120. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Introduction: Some potentially modifiable risk factors and chronic conditions cause significant disease and death during pregnancy and promote the development of chronic disease. This study describes recent trends of modifiable risk factors and controllable chronic conditions among reproductive-aged women.

Methods: Data from the 2001 to 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a representative state-based telephone survey of health behavior in US adults, was analyzed for 327,917 women of reproductive age, 18 to 44 years. We calculated prevalence ratios over time to assess trends for 4 selected risk factors and 4 chronic conditions, accounting for age, race/ethnicity, education, health care coverage, and individual states.

Results: From 2001 to 2009, estimates of 2 risk factors improved: smoking declined from 25.9% to 18.8%, and physical inactivity declined from 25.0% to 23.0%. One risk factor, heavy drinking, did not change. From 2003 to 2009, the estimates for 1 risk factor and 4 chronic conditions worsened: obesity increased from 18.3% to 24.7%, diabetes increased from 2.1% to 2.9%, high cholesterol increased from 10.3% to 13.6%, asthma increased from 13.5% to 16.2%, and high blood pressure increased from 9.0% to 10.1%. All trends were significant after adjustment, except that for heavy drinking.

Conclusion: Among women of reproductive age, prevalence of smoking and physical inactivity improved, but prevalence of obesity and all 4 chronic conditions worsened. Understanding reasons for the improvements in smoking and physical activity may support the development of targeted interventions to reverse the trends and help prevent chronic disease and adverse reproductive outcomes among women in this age group.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Reproductive Health / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health / trends*
  • Young Adult