Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 713–724 | Cite as

Physical Activity and Consumption Patterns of Reproductive-Aged Women by BMI Category

  • Jennifer K. Bello
  • Debra B. Stulberg
  • Ying Zhou
  • Chi Wang


Objectives Obesity before and during pregnancy is associated with adverse effects for mother and child, but little is known about physical activity and consumption patterns among reproductive-aged women. The goal of this study is to identify behaviors of nonpregnant reproductive-aged women associated with normal weight, overweight, and obesity. Methods Data from the nationally representative National Eating Trends survey (2003–2011) were analyzed, comparing number of days of exercise in a 1-week period and consumption of fruits/vegetables, sugar sweetened beverages (SSB), and concentrated sweets by BMI. Behaviors were compared using analysis of variance and Chi square test across groups. Ordinal logistic regression was used to compare behaviors across groups controlling for demographic factors. Multivariable Poisson regression was used to identify demographic factors associated with behaviors among obese women. Results Among 5941 18-45-year-old women, exercise and fruit/vegetable consumption were associated with healthy weight controlling for demographic factors. Reporting any exercise or fruit/vegetable consumption was associated with decreased odds of overweight or obesity (aOR 0.73, 95% CI 0.64–0.83 and aOR 0.74, 95% CI 0.58–0.95, respectively). Consuming SSBs was associated with increasing BMI category while consuming concentrated sweets was unexpectedly associated with normal weight. Among obese women, being on any diet was associated with increased exercise frequency and fruit/vegetable consumption and decreased SSB consumption. Conclusions for Practice Physical activity and consumption behaviors are associated with weight among reproductive-aged women in ways similar to those in the general population. Promoting exercise and fruit/vegetable consumption has the potential to reduce obesity.


Preconception health Obesity Physical activity Dietary consumption 



The authors would like to acknowledge the NPD Group, Victoria Bauer for her assistant in coordinating the study, Irma Hasham for assistance in manuscript preparation, and Dr. Goutham Rao for a review of the manuscript. This study was funded by inter-departmental funds from the Ambulatory Primary Care Research Group (APCIG) at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer K. Bello
    • 1
    • 2
  • Debra B. Stulberg
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Ying Zhou
    • 6
  • Chi Wang
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineSaint Louis UniversitySaint LouisUSA
  2. 2.Ambulatory Primary Care Innovations Group (APCIG)NorthShore University HealthSystemEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  5. 5.MacLean Center for Clinical Medical EthicsUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  6. 6.Center for Biomedical Research Informatics (CBRI)NorthShore University HealthSystemEvanstonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Biostatistics and Research InformaticsNorthShore University HealthSystemEvanstonUSA

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