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Barriers to physical activity and healthy eating in young breast cancer survivors: modifiable risk factors and associations with body mass index


Physical activity (PA) and healthy eating (HE) are important behaviors to encourage in breast cancer survivors (BCS). We examined associations between various factors and barriers to PA (BPA) and barriers to HE (BHE), as well as relationships between barriers and body mass index (BMI) in younger BCS. Self-reported data from 162 BCS (mean age 48 years) were used. BPA were assessed with a 21-item scale and BHE with a 19-item scale. Participants were classified as high or low on each scale. Sociodemographic, medical, and psychosocial characteristics were compared by high/low barriers. Correlates of continuous BPA and BHE were assessed as were associations among BHE, BPA, and BMI. 61 % of participants were characterized as having low BHE and low BPA; 12 % were high for both. High BHE/high BPA participants had the least favorable scores for depression, perceived stress, social support, fatigue, bladder control, and weight problems. Factors associated with BHE were lower education, higher perceived stress, and more severe weight problems. Factors associated with BPA were more severe bladder control problems and lower physical well-being. Higher BHE and BPA were significantly and uniquely associated with higher BMI, controlling for covariates. Several biopsychosocial factors (e.g., depression, stress, and fatigue) characterize young BCS who experience barriers to both HE and PA. The correlates of BHE and BPA are distinct. Both BHE and BPA are associated with BMI. These results should be considered in designing interventions for younger women with breast cancer.

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