Socio-economic status and cardiovascular risk factors in rural and urban areas of Vellore, Tamilnadu, South India

Int J Epidemiol. 2012 Oct;41(5):1315-27. doi: 10.1093/ije/dys001. Epub 2012 Feb 24.


Background: We examined associations between socio-economic status (SES) indicators and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors among urban and rural South Indians.

Methods: Data from a population-based birth cohort of 2218 men and women aged 26-32 years from Vellore, Tamilnadu were used. SES indicators included a household possessions score, attained education and paternal education. CVD risk factors included obesity, hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes, plasma total cholesterol to high density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio and triglyceride levels and consumption of tobacco and alcohol. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess associations between SES indicators and risk factors.

Results: Most risk factors were positively associated with possessions score in urban and rural men and women, except for tobacco use, which was negatively associated. Trends were similar with the participants' own education and paternal education, though weaker and less consistent. In a concurrent analysis of all the three SES indicators, adjusted for gender and urban/rural residence, independent associations were observed only for the possessions score. Compared with those in the lowest fifth of the score, participants in the highest fifth had a higher risk of abdominal obesity [odds ratio (OR) =6.4, 95% CI 3.4-11.6], high total cholesterol to HDL ratio (OR=2.4, 95% CI 1.6-3.5) and glucose intolerance (OR=2.8, 95% CI 1.9-4.1). Their tobacco use (OR=0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.6) was lower. Except for hypertension and glucose intolerance, risk factors were higher in urban than rural participants independently of SES.

Conclusion: In this young cohort of rural and urban south Indians, higher SES was associated with a more adverse CVD risk factor profile but lower tobacco use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / epidemiology
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sociology, Medical
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*


  • Lipids