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Educational differentials in key domains of physical activity by ethnicity, age and sex: a cross-sectional study of over 40 000 participants in the UK household longitudinal study (2013-2015)

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel CooperORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. .Objectives To assess whether educational differentials in three key physical activity (PA) domains vary by age, sex and ethnicity. Design National cross-sectional survey. Setting UK. Participants Altogether 40 270 participants, aged 20 years and over, from the UK Household Longitudinal Study with information on education, PA and demographics collected in 2013-2015. Outcome measures Participation in active travel (AT), occupational activity (OA) and leisure time physical activity (LTPA) at the time of assessment. Results Lower educational attainment was associated with higher AT and OA, but lower weekly LTPA activity; these associations were modified by sex, ethnicity and age. Education-related differences in AT were larger for women -the difference in predicted probability of activity between the highest and the lowest education groups was -10% in women (95% CI: -11.9% to 7.9%) and -3% in men (-4.8% to -0.4%). Education-related differences in OA were larger among men -35% (-36.9% to -32.4%) than women -17% (-19.4% to -15.0%). Finally, education-related differences in moderate-to-vigorous LTPA varied by ethnicity; for example, differences were 17% (16.2% to 18.7%) for white individuals compared with 6% (0.6% to 11.6%) for black individuals. Conclusions Educational differences in PA vary by domain and are modified by age, sex and ethnicity. A better understanding of physically inactive subgroups may aid development of interventions to both increase activity levels and reduce health inequalities.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fluharty ME, Pinto Pereira SM, Benzeval M, Hamer M, Jefferis B, Griffiths LJ, Cooper R, Bann D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2020

Volume: 10

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 20/01/2020

Acceptance date: 31/01/2019

Date deposited: 17/01/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-033318

PubMed id: 31964672


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