Behavioral risk factors associated with overweight and obesity among older adults: the 2005 National Health Interview Survey

Prev Chronic Dis. 2009 Jan;6(1):A14.
Authors: Kruger J, Ham SA, Prohaska TR.

Introduction: Obesity is associated with coronary heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Concern about obesity among older adults is growing, and research to examine behaviors associated with risk for increased weight in this population is needed. We examined differences by sex in behaviors associated with overweight and obesity among older adults (aged > or =50 years). Methods: We analyzed data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey using logistic regression to predict the likelihood of overweight (body mass index [BMI], 25.0-29.9 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI > or =30.0 kg/m2) relative to healthy weight (BMI, 18.5-24.9 kg/m2) among older adults. We used self-reported weights and heights. Correlates were risk behaviors for chronic disease (smoking status, alcohol intake, consumption of fruits and vegetables, leisure-time physical activity, walking for leisure, walking for transportation, and strength training). Results: Among older men, the prevalence of overweight was 46.3%, and the prevalence of obesity was 25.1%. Among older women, the prevalence of overweight was 33.4%, and the prevalence of obesity was 28.8%. In adjusted logistic regression models, sex differences were observed in the significance of most risk factors for overweight and obesity. Men who were occasional, light, or moderate drinkers were 28% more likely to be obese than men who were nondrinkers; women who were heavy drinkers were 55% less likely to be obese than women who were nondrinkers. Compared with men and women who were regularly active during leisure time, inactive men were 39% more likely to be obese, and inactive women were 28% more likely to be obese. Conclusion: Several risk behaviors for chronic disease appear to be associated with overweight and obesity among older adults. Modification of these behaviors has the potential to reduce weight.