An investigation of psychological, social and environmental correlates of obesity and weight gain in young women

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Abstract

Objectives:

This study explored the biological, psychological, social and environmental correlates of young women's current weight and retrospective 2-year weight change.

Methods:

A total of 790 young women (mean age 26.8 years), sampled from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, provided self-reported data on their height and weight, sociodemographics and a range of biological, psychological, social and environmental variables.

Results:

Several variables from all domains (biological, psychological, social support and environmental) were correlated with higher body mass index, and less strongly greater 2-year weight change. Key correlates included the tendency to never put on weight, no matter what; self-efficacy for avoiding weight gain, and for healthy eating; attention paid to weight; family support and friends' support/sabotage of physical activity/healthy eating; and perceived difficulty of taking the stairs rather than the elevator as part of the daily routine.

Conclusions:

Intervention strategies aimed at reducing weight gain and obesity may need to focus on social and environmental, as well as psychological factors; however, further research is necessary to confirm these findings given that a number of hypothesized associations were not observed.

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