Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Association between body mass index and health-related quality of life, and the impact of self-reported long-term conditions – cross-sectional study from the south Yorkshire cohort dataset

Benjamin Kearns*, Roberta Ara, Tracey Young and Clare Relton

Author Affiliations

School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1009  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1009

Published: 25 October 2013

Abstract

Background

We sought to quantify the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and health-related quality (HRQoL) of life, as measured by the EQ-5D, whilst controlling for potential confounders. In addition, we hypothesised that certain long-term conditions (LTCs), for which being overweight or obese is a known risk factor, may mediate the association between BMI and HRQoL. Hence the aim of our study was to explore the association between BMI and HRQoL, first controlling for confounders and then exploring the potential impact of LTCs.

Methods

We used baseline data from the South Yorkshire Cohort, a cross-sectional observational study which uses a cohort multiple randomised controlled trial design. For each EQ-5D health dimension we used logistic regression to model the probability of responding as having a problem for each of the five health dimensions. All continuous variables were modelled using fractional polynomials. We examined the impact on the coefficients for BMI of removing LTCs from our model. We considered the self-reported LTCs: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, breathing problems and high blood pressure.

Results

The dataset used in our analysis had data for 19,460 individuals, who had a mean EQ-5D score of 0.81 and a mean BMI of 26.3 kg/m2. For each dimension, BMI and all of the LTCs were significant predictors. For overweight or obese individuals (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2), each unit increase in BMI was associated with approximately a 3% increase in the odds of reporting a problem for the anxiety/depression dimension, a 8% increase for the mobility dimension, and approximately 6% for the remaining dimension s. Diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure were identified as being potentially mediating variables for all of the dimensions.

Conclusions

Compared to those of a normal weight (18.5 < BMI < 25 kg/m2), overweight and obese individuals had a reduced HRQoL, with each unit increase in BMI associated with approximately a 6% increase in the odds of reporting a problem on any of the EQ-5D health dimensions. There was evidence to suggest that diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure may mediate the association between being overweight and HRQoL.

Keywords:
Obesity; Overweight; Underweight; EQ-5D; Co-morbidities; Regression analysis; Confounding; Mediating