OBJECTIVE The principal aim of the present study was to analyse possible associations between psychosocial and occupational factors with body mass index (BMI) and the waist-to-hip circumference ratio (WHR). DESIGN A cohort study of data derived from questionnaires. SUBJECTS 1040 men from a population sample of 1302 men born 1944. MEASUREMENTS Occupational, social and leisure time conditions, smoking and alcohol habits as well as height, weight and waist-to-hip circumferences. RESULTS In multivariate analyses, the BMI, when adjusted for the WHR, smoking and alcohol, was marginally associated with shift work and, negatively, with influence on the work situation. Such men were often married or cohabited, had a low educational level, felt little time pressure and watched TV frequently. In contrast men with elevated WHR, when adjusted for BMI, alcohol and smoking, seemed to be more often out of work, and to be less satisfied with work management. They were frequently divorced and lived under relatively poorer housing conditions, indicating a low socio-economic status, exercised seldom and had little leisure time activities. CONCLUSION It was concluded that obesity (BMI) and centralisation of body fat stores (WHR) are differently associated to occupational and social factors as well as leisure time activities.