Objectives: Farmers have a low risk for cardiovascular disease, which may be related to a favourable blood lipid profile. In order to study the blood lipid levels and evaluate the effect of other cardiovascular risk factors on the blood lipid profile, this cross-sectional study was made.
Material and methods: A total of 1013 farmers and 769 non-farming rural men in nine different Swedish counties were examined, interviewed, and replied to questionnaires. The inter-relationships between different risk factors were analysed using a multivariate linear regression model.
Results: The farmers had a significantly more favourable blood lipid profile than the non-farmers although the total cholesterol levels were almost the same for the two groups. In the total study population there were significant positive relationships between total cholesterol level and body mass index (BMI), diastolic blood pressure and smoking. The high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level was positively related to physical workload and alcohol consumption, and negatively related to BMI, waist/hip ratio and smoking. Triglyceride levels showed a positive relationship to BMI, waist/hip ratio and blood pressure. Differences between farmers and other rural males were seen, especially with respect to the effect of physical activity and psychosocial factors. Among the farmers, a negative correlation between the Karasek-Theorell authority over work index and total cholesterol, the low-density lipoprotein (LDL)/HDL ratio and triglyceride levels was observed.
Conclusions: This study indicated that diet is of minor significance for the blood lipid profile, whereas factors such as physical activity, body weight and the waist/hip ratio, smoking, alcohol consumption, and perhaps psychosocial working conditions are major independent factors affecting the blood lipid profile most prominently among farmers, but also among non-farming rural men.