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Int J Equity Health. 2016 Jul 12;15(1):106. doi: 10.1186/s12939-016-0394-9.

Decomposing socio-economic inequalities in leisure-time physical inactivity: the case of Spanish children.

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Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, ᅟNewcastle, ᅟUnited Kingdom.
Department of Public Finance, School of Economics, Complutense University of Madrid, Campus de Somosaguas s/n, 28223, Pozuelo de Alarcón, Spain.



Physical inactivity is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and entails a substantial economic burden for health systems. Also, the analysis of inequality in lifestyles for young populations may contribute to reduce health inequalities during adulthood. This paper examines the income-related inequality regarding leisure-time physical inactivity in Spanish children.


In this cross-sectional study based on the Spanish National Health Survey for 2011-12, concentration indices are estimated to measure socioeconomic inequalities in leisure-time physical inactivity. A decomposition analysis is performed to determine the factors that explain income-related inequalities.


There is a significant socioeconomic gradient favouring the better-off associated with leisure-time physical inactivity amongst Spanish children, which is more pronounced in the case of girls. Income shows the highest contribution to total inequality, followed by education of the head of the household. The contribution of several factors (education, place of residence, age) significantly differs by gender.


There is an important inequity in the distribution of leisure-time physical inactivity. Public policies aimed at promoting physical activity for children should prioritize the action into the most disadvantaged subgroups of the population. As the influence of determinants of health styles significantly differ by gender, this study points out the need of addressing the research on income-related inequalities in health habits from a gender perspective.


Children; Health inequalities; Physical inactivity; Spain

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