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

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


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.


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.


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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