Resilience to obesity among socioeconomically disadvantaged women: The READI study

K. Ball, G. Abbott, V. Cleland, A. Timperio, L. Thornton, G. Mishra, R. W. Jeffery, J. Brug, A. King, D. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


Objective: This cross-sectional study aimed to identify sociodemographic and behavioural characteristics of overweight-resilient women, that is, women who were in a healthy body weight range, despite living in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods that place them at increased risk of obesity. The study also aimed to test a comprehensive theoretically derived model of the associations between intrapersonal, social and environmental factors and obesity among this target group.Participants:A total of 3235 women aged 18-45 years from 80 urban and rural neighbourhoods throughout Victoria, Australia, participated in the Resilience for Eating and Activity Despite Inequality study.Measurements:Women reported height, weight, sociodemographic characteristics, leisure-time physical activity, dietary behaviours and a range of theoretically derived cognitive, social and neighbourhood environmental characteristics hypothesized to influence obesity risk. A theoretical model predicting body mass index (BMI) was tested using structural equation models. Results: Women classified as resilient to obesity tended to be younger, born overseas, more highly educated, unmarried and to have higher or undisclosed household incomes. They engaged in more leisure-time physical activity and consumed less fast foods and soft drinks than overweight/obese women. Neighbourhood characteristics, social characteristics and cognitive characteristics all contributed to explaining variation in BMI in the hypothesized directions.Conclusions:These results demonstrate several characteristics of women appearing resilient to obesity, despite their increased risk conferred by residing in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Acknowledging the cross-sectional study design, the results advance theoretical frameworks aimed at investigating obesity risk by providing evidence in support of a comprehensive model of direct and indirect effects on obesity of neighbourhood, as well as social, cognitive and behavioural characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-865
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • obesity risk factors
  • socioeconomic disadvantage
  • structural equation models

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