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Int J Epidemiol. 1998 Apr;27(2):199-207.

The stability of lifestyle behaviour.

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Northern Centre for Healthcare Research, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.



The stability of lifestyle behaviour has been studied over a 4-year period in a sample of 1400 men in The Netherlands. The influence of both socioeconomic status and age was studied in relation to lifestyle behaviour change.


Lifestyle behaviour was analysed by means of index scores, each covering one of four domains: smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and dietary habits. Changes in lifestyle behaviour were analysed at individual and group level, using different statistical methods.


Smoking behaviour remained highly constant, whereas alcohol consumption had only moderate stability. Physical activity and dietary habits had greater variability over this time period. Age and socioeconomic status are related to the prevalence of lifestyle behaviour, whereas only age is related to the stability of lifestyle behaviour. Socioeconomic status did not relate to changes in lifestyle behaviour.


The four lifestyle behaviours differed in the degree of variation over a 4-year period. Only a small group (11%) changed two or more lifestyle behaviours. This implies that lifestyle behaviour is not a unified concept and should not be treated in that way in public health campaigns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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