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Relationships between socioeconomic position and objectively measured sedentary behaviour in older adults in three prospective cohorts

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  • Richard J Shaw
  • Iva Cukic
  • Ian Deary
  • Catharine Gale
  • Sebastien Chastin
  • Philippa Dall
  • Dawn A. Skelton
  • Geoff Der

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere016436
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


Objectives: To Investigate whether sedentary behaviour in older adults is associated with a systematic and comprehensive range of socioeconomic position (SEP) measures across the lifecourse. SEP measures included prospective measures of social class, income, educational qualifications and parental social class and contemporaneous measures of area deprivation.

Setting: Glasgow and the surrounding (West of Scotland) combined with Edinburgh and the surrounding area (the Lothians).
Participants: Community dwelling adults aged around 79, 83, and 64 years from, respectively, the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936) (n=271) and the 1930s (n=119) and 1950s (n=310) cohorts of the West of Scotland Twenty-07 study
Primary outcome measure: Sedentary behaviour was measured objectively using an activPAL activity monitor worn continuously for seven days, and used to calculate percentage of waking time spent sedentary.

Results: Among retired participants, for most cohort and SEP combinations, greater social disadvantage was associated with increased sedentary time. For example, in the Twenty-07 1930s cohort those most deprived on the Carstairs measure spent 6.5% (95% CI 0.3 to 12.7) more of their waking time sedentary than the least deprived. However, for employed people the relationship between SEP and sedentary behaviour was much weaker For example, in terms of social class differences, among the retired the most disadvantaged spent 5.7% more waking time sedentary (95% CI 2.6% to 87%) whereas among the employed there was effectively no difference (-0.5%; 95% CI -9.0 to 8.0.

Conclusions: Diverse SEP measures were associated with increased sedentary behaviour among retired people. There was little evidence for a relationship between SEP measures and sedentary behaviour among employed older adults. Prior to retirement the constraints of the workplace may be masking effects which are only apparent at weekends.

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