The association of mental health with obesity, diet, and physical activity in sheltered homeless adults

Jasmin D Aldridge, The University of Texas School of Public Health

Abstract

Mental health problems are highly prevalent among homeless adults, and may influence health behaviors and health outcomes in this population. The current study evaluated potential relationships between measures of mental health and negative affect with BMI, fruit and vegetable consumption, and meeting physical activity guidelines among homeless adults. Participants ( N=394) were homeless adults residing in a transitional shelter in Dallas, Texas. Participants were primarily African American (66.7%) and male (71.8%) with an average age of 43.4 (SD = 11.8) years. A total of 58.8% of participants were overweight or obese. Most participants (76.7%) reported that they consumed < 5 fruit/vegetable servings per day, and 31.3% did not meet physical activity guidelines. A total of 68.3% of participants reported a severe mental illness (Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder, and/or Bipolar Disorder), and more than half of the participants (56.6%) were taking psychiatric medications. Regression analyses, controlling for age, sex, race, education and smoking status, indicated that Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder was associated with greater BMI (p=0.037), and any severe mental illness was associated with low fruit and vegetable intake ( p=0.014). Also, psychiatric medication use was associated with greater BMI (p=0.021) and low fruit and vegetable intake ( p=0.006). In addition, greater depression (Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression; p 0.002) and perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale; p= 0.001) were associated with low fruit and vegetable intake. Similarly, greater negative affect (Positive and Negative Affect Scale; p=0.016) and perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale; p=0.005) were associated with insufficient physical activity. Results suggest that poor mental health, psychiatric medication use, and stress/negative affect are associated with modifiable disease risk factors among homeless adults. Findings suggest that homeless adults experiencing mental health problems and elevated stress/negative affect, and those taking psychiatric medications, may benefit from interventions that target obesity, diet, and physical activity.^

Subject Area

Mental health|Nutrition|Public health

Recommended Citation

Aldridge, Jasmin D, "The association of mental health with obesity, diet, and physical activity in sheltered homeless adults" (2015). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1598341.
http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/dissertations/AAI1598341

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