Research suggests that the interaction between biological susceptibility and environmental risk is complex and that further study of behavioral typologies related to obesity and associated behaviors is important to further elucidate the nature of obesity risk and how to approach it for intervention. The current investigation aims to identify phenotypical lifestyle patterns that might begin to unify our understanding of obesity and obesity related behaviors.
Individuals who had recently lost substantial weight of their own initiative completed measures of intentional weight control behaviors and lifestyle behaviors associated with eating. These behaviors were factor-analyzed and the resulting factors were examined in relation to BMI, recent weight loss, diet, and physical activity.
Four meaningful lifestyle and weight control behavioral factors were identified:
- Regularity of meals
- TV-related viewing and eating
- Intentional strategies for weight control
- Eating away from home.
Greater meal regularity was associated with greater recent weight loss, along with increased fruit and vegetable intake. Increased television viewing while eating was associated with greater BMI and greater fat and sugar intake. More eating away from home was related to greater fat and sugar intake, lower fruit and vegetable intake, and less physical activity. Intentional use of weight control strategies was most consistently related to better weight, diet, and physical activity outcomes.
Compared to the individual behavior variables, the identified lifestyle patterns appeared to be more reliably related to diet, physical activity, and weight (both BMI and recent weight loss). These findings add to the growing body of literature identifying behavioral patterns related to obesity and the overall weight control strategy of eating less and exercising more. In future research it will be important to replicate these behavioral factors (over time and in other samples) and to examine how changes in these factors relate to weight loss and weight maintenance over time.
Paul T Fuglestad, Robert W Jeffery and Nancy E Sherwood