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Prev Med. 2003 Feb;36(2):217-28.

Cardiovascular risk factor profiles and their social gradient from adolescence to age 74 in a Swiss region.

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  • 1Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne, rue du Bugnon 17, CH-1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.



Few European studies have investigated how cardiovascular risk factors (CRF) in adults relate to those observed in younger generations.


To explore this issue in a Swiss region using two population health surveys of 3636 adolescents ages 9-19 years and 3299 adults ages 25-74 years.


Age patterns of continuous CRF were estimated by robust locally weighted regression and those of high-risk groups were calculated using adult criteria with appropriate adjustment for children.


Gender differences in height, weight, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol observed in adults were found to emerge in adolescents. Overweight, affecting 10-12% of adolescents, was increasing steeply in young adults (three times among males and twice among females) in parallel with inactivity. Median age at smoking initiation was decreasing rapidly from 18 to 20 years in young adults to 15 in adolescents. A statistically significant social gradient in disfavor of the lower education level was observed for overweight in all age groups of women above 16 (odds ratios (ORs) 2.4 to 3.3, P < 0.01), for inactivity in adult males (ORs 1.6 to 2.0, P < 0.05), and for regular smoking in older adolescents (OR 1.9 for males, 2.7 for females, P < 0.005), but not for elevated blood pressure.


Discontinuities in the cross-sectional age patterns of CRF indicated the emergence of a social gradient and the need for preventive actions against the early adoption of persistent unhealthy behaviors, to which low-educated girls and women are particularly exposed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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