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BACKGROUND: Behavioral risk factors are known to co-occur among youth, and to increase risks of chronic diseases morbidity and mortality later in life. However, little is known about determinants of multiple chronic disease behavioral risk factors, particularly among youth. Previous studies have been cross-sectional and carried out without a sound theoretical framework.

METHODS: Using longitudinal data (n = 1135) from Cycle 4 (2000-2001), Cycle 5 (2002-2003) and Cycle 6 (2004-2005) of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, a nationally representative sample of Canadian children who are followed biennially, the present study examines the influence of a set of conceptually-related individual/social distal variables (variables situated at an intermediate distance from behaviors), and individual/social ultimate variables (variables situated at an utmost distance from behaviors) on the rate of occurrence of multiple behavioral risk factors (physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, and high body mass index) in a sample of children aged 10-11 years at baseline. Multiple behavioral risk factors were assessed using a multiple risk factor score. All statistical analyses were performed using SAS, version 9.1, and SUDAAN, version 9.01.

RESULTS: Multivariate longitudinal Poisson models showed that social distal variables including parental/peer smoking and peer drinking (Log-likelihood ratio (LLR) = 187.86, degrees of freedom (DF) = 8, p < .001), as well as individual distal variables including low self-esteem (LLR = 76.94, DF = 4, p < .001) increased the rate of occurrence of multiple behavioral risk factors. Individual ultimate variables including age, sex, and anxiety (LLR = 9.34, DF = 3, p < .05), as well as social ultimate variables including family socioeconomic status, and family structure (LLR = 10.93, DF = 5, p = .05) contributed minimally to the rate of co-occurrence of behavioral risk factors.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest targeting individual/social distal variables in prevention programs of multiple chronic disease behavioral risk factors among youth.

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© Alamian and Paradis. d. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.