Gender and psychosocial factors associated with healthy lifestyle in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) cohort: a cross-sectional study

BMJ Open. 2017 Aug 28;7(8):e015705. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015705.


Objectives: It has been estimated that over 50% of the premature deaths occurring in Western countries can be attributed to causes rooted in lifestyle. In turn, leading a healthy lifestyle has also been associated with a wide range of psychosocial factors. Today, it is known that these differ among men and women. The present article aimed to identify, from a gender-based perspective, the psychosocial factors associated with healthy lifestyles in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) cohort, the largest study concerning adult health conducted in Latin America to date.

Design: This cross-sectional study was conducted using ELSA-Brasil baseline data, collected between 2008 and 2010.

Setting: Six Brazilian public higher education and research institutions.

Participants: The ELSA-Brasil cohort consists of approximately 15 000 employees (8218 women and 6887 men), both currently working and retired.

Main outcome measures: The lifestyle indicator was constructed by summing the scores attributed to four different behaviours.

Results: The women of the ELSA-Brasil cohort have healthier lifestyles than men. In women, strong associations were found between a healthy lifestyle and age 60 years or older, Asian race and university level of education or higher. In men, being 60 years or older, of Asian or Caucasian race, having a high-school equivalent level of education or higher, being retired, having a housekeeper, having a good or very good self-perception of health and being satisfied with body image were the psychosocial factors associated with leading a healthy lifestyle.

Conclusions: The factors that influenced healthy lifestyles were found to differ among men and women, a fact that must be addressed when developing programmes designed to promote health.

Keywords: Gender; Healthy Lifestyle; Psychosocial Factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brazil
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Behavior*
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Racial Groups
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors