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Soc Sci Med. 2007 Aug;65(3):454-66. Epub 2007 Apr 26.

The association of current and sustained area-based adverse socioeconomic environment with physical inactivity.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


This paper evaluates the association between socioeconomic environment in the province of residence and physical inactivity, using measures of current and sustained area-based adverse socioeconomic environment. The analysis included 19,324 individuals representative of the Spanish non-institutionalised population aged 16-74 years. The measure of association estimated was the prevalence odds ratio for physical inactivity by current gross domestic product per capita (GDPpc) and current Gini coefficient, and by number of times each province has had a low GDPpc and number of times each province has had a high Gini coefficient in the last two decades. After adjusting for age, individual socioeconomic characteristics, and number of sports facilities per 1,000 population, the odds ratio for physical inactivity in residents of provinces with the lowest current GDPpc versus those with the highest was 1.64 in men and 2.01 in women. The odds ratio in residents of provinces that had always been among those with the lowest GDPpc versus residents in provinces that had never been among those with lowest GDPpc was 1.54 in men and 1.91 in women. Neither the current Gini coefficient nor the indicator that reflects sustained high Gini coefficient were associated with physical inactivity. These findings show that physical inactivity is associated with current socioeconomic context and with the duration of exposure of the area of residence to adverse socioeconomic circumstances when the indicators of socioeconomic environment are based on GDPpc, but not on income inequality. Also, this association is not explained by individual socioeconomic characteristics or the number of sports facilities.

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