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Sociodemographic Factors Impact Heart-Healthy Behaviors

Individual socioeconomic, psychosocial, and neighborhood factors all play a role

WEDNESDAY, June 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Socioeconomic factors, largely outside an individual’s control, account for racial differences in cardiovascular health behaviors, according to a study published in the July issue the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Kara M. Whitaker, Ph.D., from University of Iowa in Iowa City, and colleagues analyzed data from 3,081 men and women participating in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study who were enrolled in 1985 to 1986 and followed until 2015 to 2016. A health behavior score was created based upon smoking, physical activity, and diet and was assessed at baseline and at years seven, 20, and 30.

The researchers found that blacks had significantly lower health behavior scores than whites across 30 years of follow-up. The association between race and health behavior score was explained by individual socioeconomic factors (48.9 to 70.1 percent), psychosocial factors (20.3 to 30.0 percent), and neighborhood factors (22.1 to 41.4 percent) (P < 0.01 for all).

“Racial differences in health behavior scores appear to be mediated predominately by correspondingly large differences in socioeconomic factors,” the authors write. “Policy action targeting socioeconomic factors may help reduce disparities in health behaviors.”

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