Navigation Links
Bad Habits Explain Class Differences in Health: Study
Date:3/23/2010

Higher death rates for poor tied to more smoking, poorer diets and lack of exercise ,,

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Unhealthy behaviors -- including higher rates of smoking, poor diets and lack of exercise -- can explain almost three-fourths of the higher death rate among people of lower socioeconomic standing, a new study suggests.

Public health experts have known for decades that poorer people are more likely to die from most causes than the more affluent, explained James Dunn, an associate professor of applied public health at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

"That includes suicide, accidents, injuries, poisonings, most cancers, heart disease, strokes, infectious disease -- almost everything that kills us and makes us sick," said Dunn, who wrote an editorial that accompanied the study in the March 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

What's been up for debate has been the reason why. Some experts blame bad behavior while others blame stressors associated with poverty, such as a lack of control over jobs and housing, fear of violence in neighborhoods or higher exposure to pollutants.

In the study, researchers from France analyzed 24 years of data from the British Whitehall II longitudinal study, which has tracked more than 10,000 British government workers aged 35 to 55 since 1985. Civil servants were divided into three groups based on their job classification: high (administrative), intermediate (professional or executive) and low (clerical or support staff).

Health behaviors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and physical activity, were assessed at four points. At the outset, those in the lower socioeconomic rank were more likely to smoke than those in the highest rank (30 percent vs. 10 percent); be physically inactive (35 percent vs. 7 percent) and eat an unhealthy diet (15 percent vs. 6 percent). Those of lower rank were more likely to abstain from alcohol (36 percent compared to 8 percent), while those of a higher job class were more likely to be heavy drinkers.

Over the course of 24 years, 654 participants died. After controlling for gender and year of birth, those with the lowest rank at work were 1.6 times more likely to die than those with the highest positions.

When measured at a single point in time, differences in behavior could explain 42 percent of the class differences in mortality, the team found and, over time, health behaviors mattered even more, explaining 72 percent of the difference.

"The study shows health behaviors are more important in explaining socioeconomic differences in health than previously thought," Dunn said.

Tracking the impact of behavior over time is important because of substantial changes in people's habits since the 1980s. Smoking rates, for example, have dropped from 30 percent to 17 percent of those of lower socioeconomic rank, while sedentary behavior rose from 35 percent to 42 percent. Obesity rates have also risen dramatically, said study author Silvia Stringhini, a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in Villejuif, France.

In the study, all of the workers were employed and had access to health care. Even so, Stringhini said the findings could apply to the United States, where there is a similar link between lower socioeconomic status and mortality.

"In order to reduce health inequalities, health policies should specifically target individuals from lower socioeconomic status," Stringhini said. "Not only do people of high socioeconomic status tend to have better behaviors, but they are also more likely to change their unhealthy behaviors in a positive manner in response to health education messages than their less advantaged counterparts."

Despite the strong influence of behavior, Dunn said it's important not to forget that "multi-overlapping stressors" associated with poverty could both contribute to bad lifestyle choices and higher death rates.

"The reason poorer people have poorer health is because they have poorer behaviors," Dunn said. "It's a reason, but it's not the reason."

Many of the skills required to make better choices, including the ability to self-regulate, or delay gratification and plan ahead, may be strongly influenced by early childhood experiences. Programs to change behavior have to take that into account.

"The takeaway message is that we need much more clever models of health promotion than the classic model of education and enlightenment and expecting people to make a rational choice," Dunn said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities has more on the issue.



SOURCES: Silvia Stringhini, MSc, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Villejuif, France; James Dunn, Ph.D., associate professor, applied public health, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; March 24/31, 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Avocados from Mexico Encourages Parents to Model Good Eating Habits
2. Taxing unhealthy foods may encourage healthier eating habits
3. Be Well Book Launches National Movement to Help Moms Instill Healthy Habits and End Childhood Obesity
4. CIBA VISION Partners with TLC's Carmindy to Educate Consumers About Healthy Eye Habits
5. 3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
6. Painkillers Lower Estrogen Levels, May Explain Cancer Reduction Risk
7. Feedback loop explains inflammatory effect on intestinal lining
8. Personal Injury Attorney David Perecman Explains the Possible Legal Consequences of Fatal 911 Operator Error in New York
9. Fish Oil Explained Thanks To Unveiling of New Website “fishoil.com”
10. Study explains why light worsens migraine headaches
11. Three Anticoagulant Studies May Change Current Medical Practice Including New Data Revealing That Preventative Use of Aspirin and Heparin is Not Effective in Reducing Recurrent, Unexplained Miscarriages
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/30/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 30, 2016 , ... ... celebrate the profession and recognize veterinarians’ global impact on public health. The World ... theme each year, and this year have selected continuing education with a One ...
(Date:4/30/2016)... ... April 30, 2016 , ... ... 4th, 2016 questioned the use of the HyProCure sinus tarsi implant. ( ... procedure.” EOTTS-HyProCure is a minimally invasive procedure performed, when indicated, to correct ...
(Date:4/30/2016)... ... 30, 2016 , ... Orlando-based Maximized Living has selected Dr. Nick Wilson of ... Under the care of Maximized Living doctors at the London Olympics in 2012, ... Living is sending the largest contingent of elite chiropractors to Rio to support and ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... New York (PRWEB) , ... April 30, 2016 , ... ... Dobbs Ferry campus. The following programs will be expanding due to high demand: ... (HRM). The expansion will begin this summer. , School of Business ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Since ... the national charitable foundation serving the footwear industry, has broken all previous participation ... than 130 companies across 23 states during the months of April and May, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... April 29, 2016 Acquisition ... Sciences, Product Development Capabilities in North ... Base . Indegene ( http://www.indegene.com ... the acquisition of Skura Corporation,s life science business. ... adaptive sales enablement technology for life science organizations ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... NEW YORK , April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... will notably complement the company,s valve repair and ... the move also places Abbott more firmly into ... one of the fastest growing device areas, with ... to its recent report,  Advanced Remote Patient ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 2016 Treato , the ... announced today that it has been named a Cool ... in Life Sciences, 2016, Stephen Davies , ... focuses on life-science- oriented analytics, algorithms and smart machine ... doctors, confirm medication ingestion, and analyze unstructured information.   ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: