Background: The Commission on Social Determinants of Health has urged governments across the world to promote health equity by reducing the gap between the most and least deprived individuals in society. Some of this gap can be bridged by promoting healthy lifestyles through targeted Public Health policy and interventions.
Methods: Cross-sectional analyses of data on behavioural risk factors, individual socioeconomic factors and neighbourhood deprivation score collected from 26 290 adults aged over 16 years who participated in the 2008 East of England Lifestyle Survey.
Results: After adjustment for individual socioeconomic factors, across quintiles of increasing neighbourhood deprivation, participants were more likely to smoke and less likely to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables on five or more days of the week (least deprived versus most deprived quintile: odds ratios for not smoking 0.45 (0.41-0.50); and fruit and vegetable consumption 0.70 (0.64-0.76), P-trend <0.0001). Greater neighbourhood deprivation and lower occupational social class were independently associated with a lower summary healthy lifestyle score (both P-trend <0.0001).
Conclusions: Public health interventions aimed at reducing health inequalities by targeting behavioural risk factors may focus in particular on reducing smoking and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in more deprived communities.