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Eur J Epidemiol. 2003;18(4):321-9.

Physical activity patterns in 50-59 year men in France and Northern Ireland. Associations with socio-economic status and health behaviour.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique, Faculté de Médecine, Hôpitaux Universitaires, Strasbourg, France.



This study aimed to compare physical activity patterns and their associations with socio-economic status (SES) and health behaviour in two countries at contrasting risk for coronary heart disease (CHD).


This paper is a cross-sectional analysis of 7359 French and 2398 Northern Irish 50-59 year men of the PRIME cohort. Net energy expenditure due to physical activity (PAE) was assessed by means of the MOSPA-Q taking high-intensity recreational activities into account. SES was evaluated by educational attainment and material conditions. Different behavioural factors (smoking, alcohol intake and healthy eating patterns) were considered.


The prevalence of walking or cycling to work was greater in Northern Ireland (p < 10(-5)) whereas leisure PAE (p < 10(-5)) and high-intensity leisure-time activity (p < 10(-5)) were higher in France. Education was positively associated with leisure-time PAE in Northern Ireland but negatively in France. However education in both countries and material conditions in France were favourably associated with the regular practice of high-intensity recreational activities. Alcohol consumption was positively associated with leisure PAE in France only (p < 10(-3)). A weak negative association was also observed between smoking and leisure-time activities while healthy eating patterns were associated with greater physical activity in both countries.


Physical activity patterns and their relationships with SES and alcohol consumption differ in France and in Northern Ireland. Our results underline the need to focus on low socio-economic groups for health promotion but, also, to adapt strategies to promote physical activity according to cultural differences between countries. Our results also show that healthy behaviours tend to cluster in middle-aged men.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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