Objective: To estimate the effects of perception of weight gain on women's physical activity and eating behaviors over time. Methods: A total of 608 women self-reported their experience regarding perceived weight gain and physical activity at baseline and every 6 months thereafter for 36 months. Data about dietary habits were obtained every 12 months. Longitudinal relationships of perceived weight gain with physical activity and total energy intake were assessed using mixed model regression analysis after adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, obesity, and lifestyle variables. Effect of body esteem scores on physical activity and energy intake was also examined. Results: At baseline, of 608 reproductive-aged women, 129 (21.2%) reported perceived weight gain, whereas 479 (78.8%) did not. Perceived weight gain was not associated with changes in physical activity over the period of 36 months (-8.04min/week, 95% confidence interval [CI] -20.80-4.72min/week, p=0.22). A separate mixed model based on annual follow-up data over 36 months showed that those who perceived weight gain were more likely to have higher energy intake over time (112 Kcal/day higher, 95% CI 23-200 Kcal/day, p=0.01). Body esteem was not associated with changes in physical activity over time (-0.13min, 95% CI -0.44-0.18min, p=0.41) or energy intake over time (<1Kcal/day, 95% CI -2-2 Kcal/day, p=0.82). Conclusions: Neither perceived weight gain nor body esteem was associated with increased physical activity or decreased total energy intake. Rather, increased energy intake was observed among women who perceived weight gain. Future research should look at additional potential cues to action for behavior changes related to physical activity or energy intake.
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