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[Factors associated with physical activity among Mexican women of childbearing age]

Bernardo Hernández, Jessica de Haene, Simón Barquera, Eric Monterrubio, Juan Rivera, Teresa Shamah, Jaime Sepúlveda, Jere Haas, Fabricio Campirano
Pan American Journal of Public Health 2003, 14 (4): 235-45

OBJECTIVE: To document the practice of light and heavy physical activities, especially sports and exercise, among women from 12 to 49 years old in Mexico, and to evaluate the association that that has with some sociodemographic characteristics.

METHODS: A sample of 2 367 women 12 to 49 years old living in Mexico in 1999 was studied through secondary analysis of data from Mexico's 1999 National Nutrition Survey (Encuesta Nacional de Nutrición). The Survey used a clustered stratified multistage sampling scheme, with a final sample of 21 000 homes in the entire country. A questionnaire was used to evaluate the time that the women spent on various forms of physical activity, with the activity measured on a scoring scale in terms of metabolic equivalents (METs). The dependent variables in the study were the time spent on heavy physical activities (those that require an energy expenditure of at least 5 METs/hour) and the time devoted to light or sedentary activities (such as sitting while on the job or elsewhere; watching television, a video, a movie, or a theater presentation; or sleeping). The independent variables were age, schooling, parity, region of the country, area of residence (urban or rural), socioeconomic level (measured through an index prepared based on housing conditions and household possessions), and marital status. The association between the independent variables and practicing sports was evaluated, and gross odds ratios (ORs) were calculated, with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). In order to identify the association between practicing sports and the independent variables a logistic regression model was used, adjusted for the effects of possible confounding variables. Adjustments were also made in the probability of a woman's being selected for the sample, using a weighting factor. In addition, adjustments were made to control for the design effect produced by the grouping of the observations in the sample, using the "svy" complex-samples routine of the Stata version 7.0 statistical analysis computer software.

RESULTS: The 2 367 women whose information was analyzed spent an average of 0.08 hours per day practicing sports and 1.25 hours per day on heavy physical activities. Only 16% of the women reported that they regularly practiced some sport. After adjusting for all the independent variables, the women older than 30 years had a lower OR of practicing sports in comparison to women who were 20 years of age or less (OR = 0.53; 95% CI: 0.33 to 0.84), as was also true for women 21-30 years old (OR = 0.35; 95% CI: 0.23 to 0.54). Having the highest level of schooling and not having had children were both directly associated with practicing a sport. While the area of residence (urban or rural), marital status, and socioeconomic level showed differences among the groups, such differences were not significant after adjusting for the other study variables. In terms of physical activity measured in METs, the time spent on sports made up 10% of the total for heavy activity and 0.7% of the overall total. In terms of the possibility of being among the 10% of the women who expended the fewest METs per day, that was more likely for women under 21 years of age than it was for women 31 or older, and it was also more likely for women who had a primary level of schooling than for women with a secondary education.

CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that practicing sports is not a frequent form of physical activity among women of childbearing age in Mexico, especially those who are over 20 years of age and those with a low level of schooling. This situation could contribute to increases in the prevalence of obesity and chronic diseases.


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