Contrasting socioeconomic profiles related to healthier lifestyles in China and the United States.

Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, USA.
American Journal of Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 4.98). 02/2004; 159(2):184-91.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Health disparity by socioeconomic status has recently become an important public health concern. Socioeconomic status may affect health status through several pathways including lifestyle choices. The authors tested the link between socioeconomic status and lifestyle in China (in 1993) and in the United States (in 1994-1996), countries with high contrasts in development, to understand health discrepancy issues cross-nationally. Healthfulness of lifestyle was measured using the Lifestyle Index, a summary score that integrates four key lifestyle factors: diet, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Income and education were used as indicators of socioeconomic status. In China, as socioeconomic status improved, lifestyle was less healthy (relative odds for the highest socioeconomic status group = 0.19, 95% confidence interval: 0.10, 0.35). Conversely, in the United States, higher socioeconomic status was related to a healthier lifestyle (relative odds for the highest socioeconomic status group = 3.81, 95% confidence interval: 2.94, 4.94). The contrasting relation between socioeconomic status and lifestyle depicts different phases of the lifestyle transition (changes in lifestyles accompanying economic development). The differences may in part explain why nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases are more prevalent in the developing world among people with a high socioeconomic status, whereas often the opposite is found in developed societies. Public health programs may benefit by advising each socioeconomic status group separately, while considering the country's level of development.

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    ABSTRACT: Recent cross-cultural studies explore the worldwide variability of sedentary behaviours, physical activity and snacking in different countries and age groups. Health behaviours in young people in different countries are explained by cultural differences as well as being influenced by psychosocial characteristics and socioeconomic status. In the United Kingdom, modern westernised inactive lifestyles and unhealthy diet are both responsible for the prevalence of obesity. China has seen significant economic development in the past few years and this has been hypothesised to have major changes in lifestyles, including decreased physical activity and increased energy intake. Along with higher income, the likelihood of people having a healthy lifestyle has decreased. Therefore, present study aimed to describe youngpeoplès involvement in physical activity, sedentary behaviours and snacking in the North-East of England and Harbin, North-East of China. Our results show that the youth from the UK were more active through sport, however also spent more time in front of the TV and computer screen compared with Chinese counterparts. Snacking on sweets appeared to be higher in the UK, which is associated with screen time. This finding support the need of further studies to look at how sedentary behaviours are associated with other health behaviours.

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