Social determinants of health and attempt to change unhealthy lifestyle: A population-based study

Mina Danaei, Charles John Palenik, Gholamreza Abdollahifard, Mehrdad Askarian


Background: A healthy lifestyle is important because of its long-term benefits; however, there is a paucity of information concerning health choices among Iranians. We evaluated personal health behaviors, attempts to change unhealthy behaviors, and factors affecting attempts at change. 

Methods: The design of this cross-sectional study was to assemble a representative cadre of >18-year-old adults in Shiraz, Iran, using a multistage cluster sampling technique. Validated questionnaires collected participant's demographic information, such as weight, height, cigarette smoking history, physical activity, and attempts at lifestyle changes during the previous year. To determine predictors of attempts to change unhealthy lifestyle and to identify confounders, we applied single and multivariable logistic regression methods, respectively. A confidence interval of 95% was calculated for each odds ratio. 

Results: The prevalence of attempts to change unhealthy lifestyle was 42%, 64.8%, and 27.8%, respectively, for losing weight, being more physically active, and smoking cessation. Unemployment, low levels of education, and decreased socioeconomic status have important roles in attempts to change lifestyle conditions. Low socioeconomic status was a risk factor for quitting smoking. Occupation (unemployed/homemaker) and low level of education were two significant factors for being more physically active. 

Conclusions: The prevalence of inadequate physical activity and being overweight or obese was considerable in Shiraz, Iran. Attempts to change unhealthy lifestyle were less than ideal. Social determinants of health factors including unemployment and low levels of education and socioeconomic status play important roles in attempts to change current lifestyles.

Keywords: Exercise, lifestyle, smoking, Social determinants of health

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