Clustering of chronic disease behavioral risk factors in Canadian children and adolescents

Arsham Alamian, Gilles Paradis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Objective: We assessed the prevalence, socioeconomic distribution and clustering of five major chronic disease behavioral risk factors (physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking and high body mass index) in a representative sample of Canadian children and adolescents aged 10-17 years. Methods: Cross-sectional data (n = 4724) from Cycle 4 (2000/2001) of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth were used. Clustering was assessed using an observed to expected ratio method. Results: Overall, 65% of Canadian youth had two or more behavioral risk factors compared to only 10% with none of the five risk factors. The prevalence of having multiple behavioral risk factors was greater among older youth and those from low socioeconomic status families. Behavioral risk factors clustered in multiple combinations. Specifically, the simultaneous occurrence of all five risk factors was 120% greater in males (Observed/Expected ratio: 2.20; 95% CI: 1.31-3.09) and 94% greater in females (Observed/Expected ratio: 1.94; 95% CI: 1.24-2.64) than expected. Ever smoking and ever drinking showed the strongest association among the pairwise clusters. Conclusions: Multiple chronic disease behavioral risk factors are frequent and occur more often than expected among Canadian children and adolescents. Early prevention programs targeting clusters of behavioral risk factors in youth are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-499
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Chronic diseases
  • Clustering
  • Epidemiology
  • Health behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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