STUDY OBJECTIVE--To investigate the relationship between sociodemographic, behavioural, and family characteristics and the body mass index (BMI) (weight (kg)/height (m2)) of extremely obese people. DESIGN--Self reported sociodemographic, behavioural, and familial characteristics and weight and height were obtained by postal questionnaire. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING--Adult, obese Dutch people who, on their own initiative, contacted our hospital for information on obesity treatment were sent a questionnaire. A total of 244 of 690 subjects had returned the questionnaire within the stated period of 80 days. Due to missing data 19 subjects could not be included in this analysis, leaving 191 women and 34 men. MAIN RESULTS--In women the BMI seemed to be significantly inversely associated with the level of education of the partner, the number of cups of coffee consumed, and number of cigarettes smoked a day. In addition, the BMI of women was positively related to BMI of their mothers. Together these variables explained 18.0% of the total variation in BMI. In men none of the selected variables was associated with their BMI. CONCLUSION--As the selected variables explained almost one fifth of the total variation in BMI, the impact of sociodemographic, familial, and behavioural factors should have more recognition in strategies aimed at reducing obesity.
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