International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 269–277 | Cite as

The longitudinal effects of behavioral, health, and socio-demographic factors on body mass index among older Chinese adults

  • SangNam Ahn
  • Hongwei Zhao
  • Ming Tai-Seale
  • Charles HuberJr.
  • Matthew Lee Smith
  • Marcia G. Ory
  • Charles D. Phillips
Original Article



To examine the effects of behavioral, health, and socio-demographic factors on being overweight or obese among older Chinese adults.


This research uses panel data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey, which was designed to examine how social and economic transformation affected the health and nutritional status of residents. For these analyses, we used all available information on adults aged 60 years or older surveyed in 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2006 (N = 3,591). Body mass index (BMI) was dichotomized as normal (18.5–24.9 kg/m2) and overweight (25.0–29.9 kg/m2)/obese (≥30 kg/m2). Generalized estimating equations were used to estimate population-averaged (marginal) effects.


The combined prevalence of overweight or obese was approximately 33%. Moderate or heavy non-leisure physical activities (OR = 0.39; 95% CI = 0.32–0.49) and smoking (OR = 0.69; 95% CI = 0.57–0.84) decreased the odds of being overweight or obese, while drinking alcohol (OR = 1.25; 95% CI = 1.05–1.50) increased the odds. For individuals in all income levels, the amount of non-leisure physical activity strongly affected the BMI among the older Chinese adults.


Active lifestyle interventions may help counter what could otherwise be a growing obesity epidemic in China.


Behavioral factors Body mass index Older Chinese adults International health 


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • SangNam Ahn
    • 1
  • Hongwei Zhao
    • 2
  • Ming Tai-Seale
    • 3
  • Charles HuberJr.
    • 2
  • Matthew Lee Smith
    • 1
  • Marcia G. Ory
    • 1
  • Charles D. Phillips
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social and Behavioral HealthTexas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public HealthCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsTexas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public HealthCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Policy and ManagementTexas A&M Health Science Center, School of Rural Public HealthCollege StationUSA

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