Association of Behavioral Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases With Physical and Mental Health in European Adults Aged 50 Years or Older, 2004–2005
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Association of Behavioral Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases With Physical and Mental Health in European Adults Aged 50 Years or Older, 2004–2005

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of illness and death worldwide; behavioral risk factors (BRFs) contribute to these diseases. We assessed the presence of multiple BRFs among European adults according to their physical and mental health status.


    We used data from 26,026 adults aged 50 years or older from 11 countries that participated in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (2004–2005). BRFs (overweight or obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, and risky alcohol consumption) were assessed according to physical health (ie, presence of chronic diseases, disease symptoms, or limitations in activities of daily living) and mental health (depression) through multiple regression estimations.


    Overweight or obesity in men and physical inactivity in women were the most prevalent BRFs. Compared with physically active adults, physically inactive adults had a higher mean number of chronic diseases (1.33 vs 1.26) and chronic disease symptoms (1.55 vs 1.47). Risky alcohol consumption (≥4 servings of an alcohol beverage ≥3 times a week) was associated with a higher mean depression score (2.84 vs 2.47). Compared with adults with 0 or 1 BRF, adults with 2 or more BRFs had significantly higher odds of having 1 or more chronic diseases (men: 1.52; women: 1.73) and functional limitations (men: 1.65; women: 1.79) and higher prevalence of high blood pressure (37.8% vs 28.2). Belgian adults with BRFs had the highest mean number of chronic diseases or functional limitations among those who were overweight or obese and the highest mean number of chronic diseases and disease symptoms among those who smoked and were physically inactive.


    We found revealed significant positive associations between BRFs and poor health among middle-aged and older European adults. Primary health care intervention programs should focus on developing ways to reduce BRF prevalence in this population.

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