We explored the association between socioeconomic position and four different aspects of adolescent health behavior in a wide range of European countries, the US, Canada and Israel.
Data were collected from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study in 2002. Representative samples of 13 and 15 year olds completed a standardised questionnaire during school hours in each country. Logistic regression analyses were used to investigate the independent effect of parental occupation and family affluence on tobacco and alcohol use, vegetable consumption and TV viewing.
Family affluence showed no significant association with regular smoking in most countries, whereas an increase in smoking with decreasing occupational status was found in half of the countries. For alcohol consumption a positive association was found with family affluence in half of the countries, while no relationship with parental occupation was observed. Both measures of socioeconomic position were strong independent predictors for vegetable consumption and television viewing in almost all countries.
The findings suggest that health behaviours that begin to develop in adolescence are less strongly influenced by parental socioeconomic position. Preventive intervention strategies should take the different socioeconomic patterns of health behaviour into account.