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BMJ. Dec 7, 1996; 313(7070): 1434–1438.
PMCID: PMC2352956

Association of cardiovascular disease risk factors with socioeconomic position during childhood and during adulthood.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate strength of associations between risk factors for cardiovascular disease and socioeconomic position during childhood and adulthood. DESIGN: Cross sectional analysis of status of cardiovascular risk factors and past and present social circumstances. SUBJECTS: 5645 male participants in the west of Scotland collaborative study, a workplace screening study. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Strength of association between each risk factor for cardiovascular disease (diastolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol concentration, level of recreational physical exercise, cigarette smoking, body mass index, and FEV1 score (forced expiratory volume in one second as percentage of expected value) and social class during childhood (based on father's main occupation) and adulthood (based on own occupation at time of screening). RESULTS: All the measured risk factors were significantly associated with both father's and own social class (P < 0.05), apart from exercise and smoking (not significantly associated with father's social class) and body mass index (not significantly associated with own social class). For all risk factors except body mass index, the regression coefficient of own social class was larger than the regression coefficient of father's social class. The difference between the coefficients was significant for serum cholesterol concentration, cigarette smoking, body mass index, and FEV1 score (all P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Subjects' status for behavioural risk factors (exercise and smoking) was associated primarily with current socioeconomic circumstances, while status for physiological risk factors (serum cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index, and FEV1) was associated to varying extents with both past and present socioeconomic circumstances.

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