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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 703215, 11 pages
Research Article

Socioeconomic and Demographic Factors for Spousal Resemblance in Obesity Status and Habitual Physical Activity in the United States

1Department of International Health Human Nutrition Program, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
2Institute of Public Health, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei 11219, Taiwan
3Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions and School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Farber Hall, Room 270, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214-8001, USA

Received 12 May 2014; Accepted 2 September 2014; Published 23 September 2014

Academic Editor: Tomoo Okada

Copyright © 2014 Hsin-Jen Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Studies suggested that the married population has an increased risk of obesity and assimilation between spouses’ body weight. We examined what factors may affect married spouses’ resemblance in weight status and habitual physical activity (HPA) and the association of obesity/HPA with spouses’ sociodemoeconomic characteristics and lifestyles. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data of 11,403 adult married couples in the US during years 2006–2008 were used. Absolute-scale difference and relative-scale resemblance indices (correlation and kappa coefficients) in body mass index (BMI) and HPA were estimated by couples’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. We found that spousal difference in BMI was smaller for couples with a lower household income, for who were both unemployed, and for older spouses. Correlation coefficient between spouses’ BMI was 0.24, differing by race/ethnicity and family size. Kappa coefficient for weight status (obesity: BMI ≥ 30, overweight: 30 > BMI ≥ 25) was 0.11 and 0.35 for HPA. Never-working women’s husbands had lower odds of obesity than employed women’s husbands (OR = 0.69 (95% CI = 0.53–0.89)). Men’s unemployment status was associated with wives’ greater odds of obesity (OR = 1.31 (95% CI = 1.01–1.71)). HPA was associated with men’s employment status and income level, but not with women’s. The population representative survey showed that spousal resemblance in weight status and HPA varied with socioeconomic and demographic factors.