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Childhood socioeconomic status and lifetime health behaviors: The Young Finns Study


Puolakka, E and Pahkala, K and Laitinen, TT and Magnussen, CG and Hutri-Kahaonen, N and Mannisto, S and Palve, KS and Tammelin, T and Tossavainen, P and Jokinen, E and Smith, KJ and Laitinen, T and Elovainio, M and Pulkki-Raback, L and Viikari, JSA and Raitakari, OT and Juonala, M, Childhood socioeconomic status and lifetime health behaviors: The Young Finns Study, International Journal of Cardiology, 258 pp. 289-294. ISSN 0167-5273 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2018.01.088


Background: Differences in health behaviors partly explain the socioeconomic gap in cardiovascular health. We prospectively examined the association between childhood socioeconomic status (SES) and lifestyle factors in adulthood, and the difference of lifestyle factors according to childhood SES in multiple time points from childhood to adulthood.

Methods and Results: The sample comprised 3453 participants aged 3-18 years at baseline (1980) from the longitudinal Young Finns Study. The participants were followed up for 31 years (N = 1675-1930). SES in childhood was characterized as reported annual family income and classified on an 8-point scale. Diet, smoking, alcohol intake and physical activity were used as adult and life course lifestyle factors. Higher childhood SES predicted a healthier diet in adulthood in terms of lower consumption of meat (β  SE -3.6  0.99,p < 0.001), higher consumption of fish (1.1  0.5, p = 0.04) and higher diet score (0.14  0.044, p = 0.01). Childhood SES was also directly associated with physical activity index (0.059  0.023, p = 0.009) and inversely with the risk of being a smoker (RR 0.90 95%CI 0.85-0.95, p < 0.001) and the amount of pack years (-0.47  0.18, p = 0.01). Life course level of smoking was significantly higher and physical activity index lower among those below the median childhood SES when compared with those above the median SES.

Conclusions: These results show that childhood SES associates with several lifestyle factors 31 years later in adulthood. Therefore, attention could be paid to lifestyle behaviors of children of low SES families to promote cardiovascular health.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:cardiovascular disorders, health behaviors, preventive medicine, socioeconomic status
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Epidemiology
Research Field:Epidemiology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Behaviour and health
UTAS Author:Magnussen, CG (Associate Professor Costan Magnussen)
UTAS Author:Smith, KJ (Dr Kylie Smith)
ID Code:125082
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:21
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2018-03-27
Last Modified:2018-12-11

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