Socio-economic differences in cardiovascular disease and physical activity: stereotypes and reality

J R Soc Promot Health. 2004 Mar;124(2):66-9. doi: 10.1177/146642400412400209.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is patterned by socio-economic status, being more common in lower social classes. Since physical inactivity is a risk factor for CVD it might be assumed that it is more common in lower social classes. We examine major recent UK population surveys and show that this assumption is incorrect; although higher social class adults engage in more formal sports activities, they are less likely to engage in other (e.g. occupational) activities. Lower social class children are more likely to engage in sports and active play. We also show that although Scotland has higher rates of CVD than England, it does not have higher prevalences of all CVD risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Class*
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology