The health consciousness myth: Implications of the near independence of major health behaviors in the North American population

Jason T. Newsom, Bentson McFarland, Mark S. Kaplan, Nathalie Huguet, Brigid Zani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Analysis of over 250,000 respondents from four of the largest epidemiological surveys in North America indicates that major health behaviors are largely unrelated to one another. On average, the percentage of shared variance among smoking, exercise, diet and alcohol consumption is approximately 1%. While many of these relationships are statistically significant, suggesting that the associations are nonzero in the population, they represent minute effect sizes. The weak associations among these behaviors are unlikely to be due to incorrect functional form of the relationship, measurement error, or biases in responding. The findings have implications for health behavior theories and interventions predicated on the notion that the health conscious individual attempts to improve his or her health by engaging in more than one of these behaviors at a time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-437
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Fingerprint

Health Behavior
health behavior
Consciousness
consciousness
myth
behavior theory
Health
North America
health
alcohol consumption
Alcohol Drinking
Population
smoking
Smoking
Diet
trend
alcohol
diet
Surveys and Questionnaires
time

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Health behaviors
  • Health consciousness
  • North America
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)

Cite this

The health consciousness myth : Implications of the near independence of major health behaviors in the North American population. / Newsom, Jason T.; McFarland, Bentson; Kaplan, Mark S.; Huguet, Nathalie; Zani, Brigid.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 60, No. 2, 01.2005, p. 433-437.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Newsom, Jason T. ; McFarland, Bentson ; Kaplan, Mark S. ; Huguet, Nathalie ; Zani, Brigid. / The health consciousness myth : Implications of the near independence of major health behaviors in the North American population. In: Social Science and Medicine. 2005 ; Vol. 60, No. 2. pp. 433-437.
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