Objectives: To investigate if socioeconomic status (SES) is predictive of cardiovascular risk factors among Swedish adolescents. Identify the most important SES variable for the development of each cardiovascular risk factor. Investigate at what age SES inequality in overweight and obesity occurs.
Design: Longitudinal follow-up of a prospective birth cohort.
Setting: All Babies in Southeast Sweden (ABIS) study includes data from children born between October 1997 and October 1999 in five counties of south east Sweden.
Participants: A regional ABIS-study subsample from three major cities of the region n=298 adolescents aged 16-18 years, and prospective data from the whole ABIS cohort for overweight and obesity status at the ages 2, 5, 8 and 12 years (n=2998-7925).
Outcome measures: Blood pressure above the hypertension limit, overweight/obesity according to the International Obesity Task Force definition, low high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or borderline-high low-density lipoproteins according to National Cholesterol Education Program expert panel on cholesterol levels in children.
Results: For three out of four cardiovascular risk outcomes (elevated blood pressure, low HDL and overweight/obesity), there were increased risk in one or more of the low SES groups (p<0.05). The best predictor was parental occupational class (Swedish socioeconomic classification index) for elevated blood pressure (area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve 0.623), maternal educational level for overweight (area under the ROC curve 0.641) and blue-collar city of residence for low HDL (area under the ROC curve 0.641). SES-related differences in overweight/obesity were found at age 2, 5 and 12 and for obesity at age 2, 5, 8 and 12 years (all p<0.05).
Conclusions: Even in a welfare state like Sweden, SES inequalities in cardiovascular risks are evident already in childhood and adolescence. Intervention programmes to reduce cardiovascular risk based on social inequality should start early in life.
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- cardiac epidemiology
- paediatric endocrinology
- public health
- social medicine