Lecture 3 - Health Behaviors
Health Promotion: An Overview
Health promotion: process enabling people to increase control
over, and to improve, their health.
Good health is a personal & collective achievement
-Develop good health habits early in life and have them continue
o Medical Practitioner
-Teach people how to achieve this lifestyle and help those “at
–Development of interventions to help people practice healthy
behaviors and change poor ones.
-General emphasis on good health.
An Introduction to Health Behaviors: Role of Beh. Factors in Disease &
Recall from last week – patterns of disease changed dramatically
over last 70 years.
Decrease prevalence of acute, infectious disorders (e.g.,
-Treatment innovations & public health standards.
Increase “preventable” disorders (i.e. cardiovascular disease,
alcohol and drug abuse, lung cancer).
Preventing/cut out smoking, alcohol.
Clear role of behavioral factors in disease.
What we do contributes to how healthy we are.
~1/2 deaths in Canada are caused by modifiable behaviors
(smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity…).
Health Behaviors are behaviors undertaken by people to enhance
or maintain their health.
Health habits are health-related behaviors that are firmly
established and often performed automatically, without
-Develop in childhood and stabilize at 11 or 12.
ex) Wearing a seatbelt, brushing teeth, healthy diet.
-Develop initially because reinforced by specific positive
outcomes … eventually becomes independent of reinforcement &
is maintained by environmental factors. -Highly resistant to change.
Risk Factors for the Leading Causes of Death in Canada
Heart disease (physical inactivity, smoking)
Cancer (tanning/sun-screening, screening for
Accidental injuries (not drinking and driving, helmets and proper
Chronic lung disease (smoking)
Benefits of the Successful Modification of Health Behaviors
Reduce death due to lifestyle-related diseases.
Delay time of death; increasing longevity and life expectancy of
Expand the number of years in which a person may enjoy life
free from complications of chronic disease.
May begin to make a dent in the more than $1 trillion that is
spent yearly on health and illness.
We can decrease deaths by preventing rather than waiting for
disease to occur and then treating it.
Instilling good health habits and changing poor ones is the task
of PRIMARY PREVENTION.
-Get people to change problematic health behaviors
o Weight loss programs.
-Prevent people from developing poor health habits in the first
o Smoking prevention in teenagers.
o Most recent approach.
What factors influence health-related behaviors?
Factors Influencing Health Behaviors
1) Socio-economic factors.
2) Age: childhood, adolescence, later adulthood.
Later adulthood: Decreased mobility (hard to exercise/access
programs), decreased eyesight.
-Eating: F = more nutritious BUT dieting.
-Physical Activity: M > F. -Alcohol consumption: M > F.
-Smoking: Aboriginal youth = 3 x > Canadian average
-Diabetes: Aboriginal peoples.
-Abdominal fat: Chinese vs European descent Canadians.
o Greater risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes,…
5) Values: ex) exercise + women in different cultures.
African like fat women because it shows they have money to eat
6) Personal control.
-HEALTH LOCUS OF CONTROL: perception that one’s health is
under personal control, is controlled by powerful others such as
physicians, or is determined by external factors including
-Personal control = better health habits.
7) Social Influence: +ve or –ve.
8) Personal goals.
What you think is important? (Does your weekly schedule
include 3-5 times of exercise per week? Do you think it’s
important to be physical active & moderate how much you
9) Perceived Symptoms.
10) Access to Health Care Services – PAP smears in Nicaragua.
Have to walk far and wait a long time and few clinics and they close
so women don't get their turn.
11) Place – rural = less access to services, poorer eating habits,
lower activity at leisure time, and higher rates of smoking.
12) Cognitive – belief that behaviors are beneficial.
Okay so we know which factors contribute to health habits. That
means we should be readily able o change habits right? Wrong
Health habits are very difficult to change!
Different health habits are controlled by different factors
(environment or personal).
-What controls your diet? What about your decision to exercise?
Diet: time to buy produce & prepare it, money.
Exercise: time, access to gyms.
Different factors may control the same health behavior for
Factors controlling a health behavior may change over the
history of the behavior (initiating factors no longer there). Physical dependence on substance determines whether you continue
it or not.
Factors controlling the health behavior may change across a
person’s lifetime (peer groups).
Peer groups maintain things like exercise too.
Studies show that individuals are more likely to overeat when they
are with others than alone. This applied for drug use also.
Why Intervene with Children and Adolescents?
Health habits influenced by early socialization.
-role models – 1 parents, later friends.
Health promotion efforts capitalize on educational opportunities
to prevent poor health habits from developing.
-teachable moment – certain times are better for teaching
particular health practices than others.
-window of vulnerability – for smoking and drug use that occurs
in junior high school when the students are first exposed to
these habits among their peers.
Research suggests that precautions taken in adolescence may be
better predictors of disease after age 45 t