Women's physical activity and eating habits: Influence of work-family balance
Principal Investigator: Joseph G. Grzywacz
Physical activity and eating habits are believed to play a role in several chronic conditions, and they are claimed to be among the major causes of premature death. Despite widespread public health initiatives, attempts to promote healthy physical activity and eating habits have met with limited success, particularly among women of early child-rearing age as well as Black women and women with little formal education. The goal of this project is to determine the value of targeting work-family balance in workplace-based interventions designed to promote healthy physical activity and eating habits.
This project is designed to accomplish to primary specific aims: 1) determine if difficulty balancing work and family (e.g., high work-family conflict) predicts women’s level of physical activity (e.g., number of steps per day) and unhealthy eating behaviors (e.g., greater use of commercially-prepared foods); and 2) determine if within-person effects of work-family balance on physical activity and unhealthy eating behaviors differ by race or educational attainment. Additionally, the project was designed to accomplish two secondary aims: 3) evaluate the degree to which the effects of work-family balance on physical activity and unhealthy eating habits are explained (i.e., mediated) by time availability and psychological strain; and 4) determine if family-friendly work characteristics contribute to physical activity and eating habits.
The aims of the project will be accomplished by collected repeated-measures data from a cohort of 400 women, stratified by race and educational attainment, and whose oldest child is aged 4 to 9. The project is guided by a conceptual framework arguing that women, particularly Black women and those with little education prioritize their work and family lives over their own self care. Data will be collected at 4 points across one year to capture natural rhythms in women’s lives, including those imposed by their child’s school schedule (e.g., holiday breaks). Analyses will use a General Linear Mixed Model approach to determine if within-person variation in work-family balance is associated with within-person variation in women’s physical activity and eating habits.
Funder: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development
1. Grzywacz, J. G., & Marks, N. F. (2001). Social inequalities and exercise during adulthood: Toward an ecological perspective. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42, 202-220. [PMID: 11467253].
2. Grzywacz, J. G., Casey, P. R., & Jones, F. A. (2007). Workplace flexibility and employee health behaviors: A cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 49, 1302-1309. [PMID: 18231077].