Article

Socioeconomic Differences in Adolescent Health-Related Behavior Differ by Gender

Institute of Experimental Psychology, Slovak Academy of Sciences.
Journal of Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 2.86). 04/2013; 23(3). DOI: 10.2188/jea.JE20120133
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Background
Many studies of adolescent health-related behaviors have assessed the effects of gender and parental socioeconomic position (SEP) but not their mutual modification. We investigated socioeconomic differences in health-related behaviors among Slovak adolescents and the potential modification of those differences by gender.

Methods
Data were collected in 2006 (n = 3547; 49.4% boys; mean [SD] age, 14.3 [0.6] years; response rate, 93.5%). The sample comprised students in the eighth and ninth grades of randomly selected elementary schools in Slovakia. Gender-specific prevalence rates for 9 types of health-related behaviors, including nutritional behavior, physical activity and substance use, were calculated for 3 socioeconomic groups, which were defined by the highest educational level attained by both parents. Gender differences in socioeconomic gradients for health-related behaviors were tested.

Results
Socioeconomic differences were found in nutritional behavior, physical activity, and smoking. Adolescents with lower parental education behaved less healthily. The largest relative socioeconomic difference was no daily vegetable consumption among girls (90.3% of those with high SEP vs 95.2% of those with middle SEP; odds ratio, 2.33). Regarding no daily fruit consumption, differences among girls were 1.51 times and 1.92 times as large as those among boys for children with medium and low SEP, respectively, as compared with those with high SEP.

Conclusions
Socioeconomic differences in health-related behavior were small, especially for nutritional behavior and physical activity. Interventions that aim to improve health-related behaviors among adolescents with lower SEP should focus on these 2 behaviors, particularly on healthy nutrition in girls with low SEP.

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