Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Occupational factors associated with obesity and leisure-time physical activity among nurses: A cross sectional study


Background and objective

Adverse working conditions contribute to obesity and physical inactivity. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations of occupational factors with obesity and leisure-time physical activity among nurses.


This study used cross-sectional data of 394 nurses (mean age 48 years, 91% females, 61% white) randomly selected from the California Board of Registered Nursing list. Data on demographic and employment characteristics, musculoskeletal symptom comorbidity, physical and psychosocial occupational factors, body mass index (BMI), and physical activity were collected using postal and on-line surveys from January to July in 2013.


Of the participants, 31% were overweight and 18% were obese; 41% engaged in regular aerobic physical activity (≥ 150 min/week) and 57% performed regular muscle-strengthening activity (≥ 2 days/week). In multivariable logistic regression models, overweight/obesity (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m(2)) was significantly more common among nurse managers/supervisors (OR=2.54, 95% CI: 1.16-5.59) and nurses who worked full-time (OR=2.18, 95% CI: 1.29-3.70) or worked ≥ 40 h per week (OR=2.53, 95% CI: 1.58-4.05). Regular aerobic physical activity was significantly associated with high job demand (OR=1.63, 95% CI: 1.06-2.51). Nurses with passive jobs (low job demand combined with low job control) were significantly less likely to perform aerobic physical activity (OR=0.49, 95% CI: 0.26-0.93). Regular muscle-strengthening physical activity was significantly less common among nurses working on non-day shifts (OR=0.55, 95% CI: 0.34-0.89). Physical workload was not associated with obesity and physical activity.


Our study findings suggest that occupational factors significantly contribute to obesity and physical inactivity among nurses. Occupational characteristics in the work environment should be considered in designing effective workplace health promotion programs targeting physical activity and obesity among nurses.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View