Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A cluster-analytic approach towards multidimensional health-related behaviors in adolescents: the MoMo-Study

Sarah Spengler1*, Filip Mess1, Nadine Mewes1, Gert BM Mensink2 and Alexander Woll3

Author Affiliations

1 Sports Science, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstraße 10, Constance 78457, Germany

2 Robert Koch-Institute, General Pape Straße 62-66, Berlin, 12101, Germany

3 Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Sports Science, Engler-Bunte-Ring 15, Karlsruhe, 76131, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1128  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1128

Published: 31 December 2012



Although knowledge on single health-related behaviors and their association with health parameters is available, research on multiple health-related behaviors is needed to understand the interactions among these behaviors. The aims of the study were (a) to identify typical health-related behavior patterns in German adolescents focusing on physical activity, media use and dietary behavior; (b) to describe the socio-demographic correlates of the identified clusters and (c) to study their association with overweight.


Within the framework of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS) and the “Motorik-Modul” (MoMo), 1,643 German adolescents (11–17 years) completed a questionnaire assessing the amount and type of weekly physical activity in sports clubs and during leisure time, weekly use of television, computer and console games and the frequency and amount of food consumption. From this data the three indices ‘physical activity’, ‘media use’ and ‘healthy nutrition’ were derived and included in a cluster analysis conducted with Ward’s Method and K-means analysis. Chi-square tests were performed to identify socio-demographic correlates of the clusters as well as their association with overweight.


Four stable clusters representing typical health-related behavior patterns were identified: Cluster 1 (16.2%)—high scores in physical activity index and average scores in media use index and healthy nutrition index; cluster 2 (34.6%)—high healthy nutrition score and below average scores in the other two indices; cluster 3 (18.4%)—low physical activity score, low healthy nutrition score and very high media use score; cluster 4 (30.5%)—below average scores on all three indices. Boys were overrepresented in the clusters 1 and 3, and the relative number of adolescents with low socio-economic status as well as overweight was significantly higher than average in cluster 3.


Meaningful and stable clusters of health-related behavior were identified. These results confirm findings of another youth study hence supporting the assumption that these clusters represent typical behavior patterns of adolescents. These results are particularly relevant for the characterization of target groups for primary prevention of lifestyle diseases.

Motorik-Modul (MoMo); Health-related lifestyle; Cluster analysis; German; Adolescents