The evidence that individual dietary and lifestyle factors influence a person’s weight and waist circumference is well established; however their combined impact is less well documented. Therefore, we investigated the combined effect of physical activity, nutrition and smoking status on prospective gain in body weight and waist circumference.
We used data of the prospective EPIC-PANACEA study. Between 1992 and 2000, 325,537 participants (94,445 men and 231,092 women, aged between 25–70) were recruited from nine European countries. Participants were categorised into two groups (positive or negative health behaviours) for each of the following being physically active, adherent to a healthy (Mediterranean not including alcohol) diet, and never-smoking for a total score ranging from zero to three. Anthropometric measures were taken at baseline and were mainly self-reported after a medium follow-up time of 5 years.
Mixed-effects linear regression models adjusted for age, educational level, alcohol consumption, baseline body mass index and follow-up time showed that men and women who reported to be physically active, never-smoking and adherent to the Mediterranean diet gained over a 5-year period 537 (95% CI −706, −368) and 200 (−478, −87) gram less weight and 0.95 (−1.27, −0.639) and 0.99 (−1.29, −0.69) cm less waist circumference, respectively, compared to participants with zero healthy behaviours.
The combination of positive health behaviours was associated with significantly lower weight and waist circumference gain.