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Behavior and Psychology

Home environment and psychosocial predictors of obesity status among community-residing men and women



Prior research indicates that features of the home environment (for example, televisions, exercise equipment) may be associated with obesity, but no prior study has examined objective features of the home food environment (for example, location of food) in combination with behavioral (for example, food purchasing), psychological (for example, self-efficacy) and social factors among obese adults. This study identified factors associated with obesity status from measures of home environment, food purchasing behavior, eating behavior and psychosocial functioning.


One hundred community-residing obese (mean body mass index (BMI)=36.8, s.e.=0.60) and nonobese (mean BMI=23.7, s.e.=0.57) adults (mean age=42.7, s.e.=1.50; range=20–78 years) completed an observational study with 2-h home interview/assessment and 2-week follow-up evaluation of food purchases and physical activity. Data were analyzed with analysis of variance and logistic regression, controlling for sex.


Univariate analyses revealed that homes of obese individuals had less healthy food available than homes of nonobese (F(1,97)=6.49, P=0.012), with food distributed across a greater number of highly visible locations (F(1,96)=6.20, P=0.01). Although there was no group difference in household income or size, obese individuals reported greater food insecurity (F(1,97)=9.70, P<0.001), more reliance on fast food (F(1,97)=7.63, P=0.01) and more long-term food storage capacity in number of refrigerators (F(1,97)=3.79, P=0.05) and freezers (F(1,97)=5.11, P=0.03). Obese individuals also reported greater depressive symptoms (F(1,97)=10.41, P=0.002) and lower ability to control eating in various situations (F(1,97)=20.62, P<0.001). Multiple logistic regression revealed that obesity status was associated with lower self-esteem (odds ratio (OR) 0.58, P=0.011), less healthy food consumption (OR 0.94, P=0.048) and more food available in the home (OR 1.04, P=0.036).


The overall pattern of results reflected that home food environment and psychosocial functioning of obese individuals differed in meaningful ways from that of nonobese individuals. In particular, lower self-esteem may be an important psychosocial aspect of obesity, especially in the context of greater food consumption and food storage/availability.

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This work was supported by a grant from the Ohio State University Food Innovation Center and by Award Number Grant UL1TR001070 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH.

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Correspondence to C F Emery.

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Emery, C., Olson, K., Lee, V. et al. Home environment and psychosocial predictors of obesity status among community-residing men and women. Int J Obes 39, 1401–1407 (2015).

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