Background: Excess body weight among adults is associated with increased risk of disease. Therefore, we sought predictors of weight gain that might be used to prevent increases in weight.
Methods: Participants were 438 male fire service personnel, 20-58 years of age, who filled out a questionnaire in 1984 and were weighed in 1984 and 1991.
Results: Sixty-five percent gained > or = 5 lb, 42.1% gained > or = 10 lb, and 26.1% gained > or = 15 lb. Unmarried fire fighters gained 11.7 lb; those married or living as married gained 7.0 lb (P < 0.001). Black non-Hispanics increased by 15.7 lb, white Hispanics by 8.9 lb, and white non-hispanics by 6.7 lb (P < 0.001). New ex-smokers gained 13.0 lb; all other fire fighters gained 7.7 lb (P < 0.004). Fire fighters who reported eating "faster" at the station than elsewhere gained 9.9 lb compared with 6.8 lb for all others (P < 0.006). Those worried over financial security gained 11.2 lb versus nonworriers who gained 7.4 lb (P < 0.005).
Conclusion: Prevention programs will reach fire fighters likely to gain the most weight if aimed at those who are unmarried, younger, black, recent ex-smokers, fast eaters, and experiencing certain stressful life events.