A cross-sectional analysis of patterns of obesity in a cohort of working nurses and midwives in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom

Fiona E. Bogossian, Julie Hepworth, Gary M. Leong, Dylan F Flaws, Kristen S. Gibbons, Christine A. Benefer, Catherine T. Turner

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Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of overweight and obesity and the association with demographic, reproductive work variables in a representative cohort of working nurses and midwives. Design: A cross sectional study of self reported survey data. Settings: Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Methods: Measurement outcomes included BMI categories, demographic (age, gender, marital status, ethnicity), reproductive (parity, number of births, mother's age at first birth, birth type and menopausal status) and workforce (registration council, employment type and principal specialty) variables. Participants: 4996 respondents to the Nurses and Midwives e-Cohort study who were currently registered and working in nursing or midwifery in Australia (. n=. 3144), New Zealand (. n=. 778) or the United Kingdom (. n=. 1074). Results: Amongst the sample 61.87% were outside the healthy weight range and across all three jurisdictions the prevalence of obesity in nurses and midwives exceeded rates in the source populations by 1.73% up to 3.74%. Being overweight or obese was significantly associated with increasing age (35-44 yrs aOR 1.71, 95% CI 1.41-2.08; 45-55 yrs aOR 1.90, 95%CI 1.56-2.31; 55-64 aOR 2.22, 95% CI 1.71-2.88), and male gender (aOR 1.46, 95% CI 1.15-1.87). Primiparous nurses and midwives were more likely to be overweight or obese (aOR 1.37, 95% CI 1.06-1.76) as were those who had reached menopause (aOR 1.37, 95% CI 1.11-1.69). Nurses and midwives in part-time or casual employment had significantly reduced risk of being overweight or obese, (aOR 0.81, 95% CI 0.70-0.94 and aOR 0.75, 95% CI 0.59-0.96 respectively), whilst working in aged carried increased risk (aOR 1.37, 95% CI 1.04-1.80). Conclusion: Nurses and midwives in this study have higher prevalence of obesity and overweight than the general population and those who are older, male, or female primiparous and menopausal have significantly higher risk of overweight or obesity as do those working fulltime, or in aged care. The consequences of overweight and obesity in this occupational group may impact on their workforce participation, their management of overweight and obese patients in their care as well as influencing their individual health behaviours and risks of occupational injury and chronic disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-738
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • BMI
  • Electronic survey
  • Midwives
  • Nurses
  • Obesity
  • Overweight

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