FUNDING SOURCE: CDC PRC Special Interest Project, U48/CCU409664 SIP 20-01 (2001 – 2003)


  • Barbara E. Ainsworth, PhD, MPH



The overall goal of this two-year study was to integrate physical activity (PA) and weight control behavior surveys to obtain prevalence estimates of these behaviors in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults.  The investigators also collaborated with CDC partners to extend an understanding of the relationships between PA and weight control behaviors in U.S. adults.  In all activities, emphasis was given to identifying behaviors that characterize the age, sex, economic, and racial/ethnic diversity of Americans.  Six specific aims were completed.

Through participation in the Healthy Aging Network as a Network Center, the specific aims of this project were to:

  • Develop occupational PA questions
  • Develop a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) weight control survey module
  • Prepare a survey that integrates measures of PA and traditional and CAM weight control practices for surveillance
  • Administer the survey to 8,000 English- and Spanish-speaking adults using a random digit dialing protocol
  • Compare prevalence estimates for PA between the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and weight control practices between the BRFSS and CAM instruments
  • Disseminate survey results from national data sets about PA and weight control behaviors

All research activities took place in the Prevention Research Center at the University of South Carolina. In Year 1, Aims 1-5 were completed.  The USC Survey Research Laboratory administered the national prevalence survey using BRFSS methods.  Spanish translation was completed, and cognitive testing of the survey was performed in English (n=15) and Spanish (n=15). Researchers with knowledge of CAM practice, survey design, nutrition, and weight control developed the CAM weight control questions.  Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to evaluate the survey for comprehension, prevalence of PA and weight control behaviors, and integration of PA and weight control questions.  In Year 2, Aim 6 was completed, by collaborating with CDC partners to analyze data from this and other national surveys to understand PA and weight control practices as behaviors and etiologies of obesity, and to disseminate the findings through scientific presentations and published papers.


Blanck, H. M., Serdula, M. K., Gillespie, C., Galuska, D. A., Sharpe, P. A., Conway, J. M., Khan, L. K., & Ainsworth, B. E. (2007). Use of nonprescription dietary supplements for weight loss is common among Americans. J Am Diet Assoc, 107(3), 441-447.

Sharpe, P., Conway, J., Williams, J., Ainsworth, B., & Blanck, H. M. (2007). Use of complementary and alternative medicine for weight control in the United States. The Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4, 278-293.

Sharpe, P. A., Granner, M. L., Conway, J. M., Ainsworth, B. E., & Dobre, M. (2006). Availability of weight-loss supplements: Results of an audit of retail outlets in a southeastern city. J Am Diet Assoc, 106(12), 2045-2051.