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Obes Facts. 2008;1(5):227-36. doi: 10.1159/000156463. Epub 2008 Oct 23.

A health assessment tool for multiple risk factors for obesity: psychometric testing and age differences in UK adults.

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Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, UK.



Although many individual health behaviours (e.g. diet/activity) have been implicated in the current rise in obesity levels, their confounding or cumulative effects have yet to be established. This study psychometrically tested a previously piloted comprehensive measure of obesity risk factors, designed to assess their relative importance at individual and population levels.


A user-friendly, self-report questionnaire, completed by 359 adult volunteers (71% female, age range 18-81 years), was subjected to exploratory factor analysis and related to body mass index (BMI) and age.


The final solution had 74 items and showed a clear factor structure, with 5 dietary and 5 activity factors, plus 8 unrelated factors covering dieting behaviour, alcohol consumption, sleep, and varied developmental influences. Younger respondents generally reported unhealthier behaviours. Once age was controlled for, less healthy eating, more emotional eating, higher amounts eaten, less physical activity, more use of mechanised transport, and more/less successful dieting behaviour were all strongly related to higher BMI, with lesser associations for more TV watching and less parental encouragement to be active.


This easy-touse self-report measure of multiple risk factors showed good psychometric properties and has merit in determining the contribution of varied factors in the tendency to overweight and obesity. The finding that younger adults generally reported less healthy dietary and activity behaviour indicates a pressing need for early intervention.

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