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Background Physical activity (PA) and healthy dietary behaviors (HDB) are two well-documented lifestyle factors influencing body mass index (BMI). This study examined 7-year longitudinal associations between changes in PA, HDB, and BMI among adults using a parallel latent growth curve modeling (LGCM).

Methods We used prospective cohort data collected by a private company (SimplyWell LLC, Omaha, NE, USA) implementing a workplace health screening program. Data from a total of 2,579 adults who provided valid BMI, PA, and HDB information for at least 5 out of 7 follow-up years from the time they entered the program were analyzed. PA and HDB were subjectively measured during an annual online health survey. Height and weight measured during an annual onsite health screening were used to calculate BMI (kgm2). The parallel LGCMs stratified by gender and baseline weight status (normal: BMI30) were fitted to examine the longitudinal associations of changes in PA and HDB with change in BMI over years.

Results On average, BMI gradually increased over years, at rates ranging from 0.06 to 0.20 kgm 2year, with larger increases observed among those of normal baseline weight status across genders. The increases in PA and HDB were independently associated with a smaller increase in BMI for obese males (b = -1.70 and -1.98, respectively), and overweight females (b = -1.85 and -2.46, respectively) and obese females (b = -2.78 and -3.08,respectively). However, no significant associations of baseline PA and HDB with changes in BMI were observed.

Conclusions Our study suggests that gradual increases in PA and HDB are independently associated with smaller increases in BMI in overweight and obese adults, but not in normal weight individuals. Further study is warranted to address factors that check increases in BMI in normal weight adults.


This article was originally published in PLOS one, available at DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173986.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.



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