Childhood socioeconomic position and adult leisure-time physical activity: a systematic review

Regular leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) benefits health and is thought to be less prevalent in lower socioeconomic groups. Evidence suggests that childhood socioeconomic circumstances can impact on adult health and behaviour however, it is unclear if this includes an influence on adult LTPA. This review tested the hypothesis that a lower childhood socioeconomic position (SEP) is associated with less frequent LTPA during adulthood. Studies were located through a systematic search of MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and SPORTDiscus and by searching reference lists. Eligible studies were English-language publications testing the association between any indicator of childhood SEP and an LTPA outcome measured during adulthood. Forty-five papers from 36 studies, most of which were European, were included. In most samples, childhood SEP and LTPA were self-reported in midlife. Twenty-two studies found evidence to support the review’s hypothesis and thirteen studies found no association. Accounting for own adult SEP partly attenuated associations. There was more evidence of an association in UK compared with Scandinavian cohorts and in women compared with men. Results did not vary by childhood SEP indicator or age at assessment of LTPA. This review found evidence of an association between less advantaged childhood SEP and less frequent LTPA during adulthood. Understanding how associations vary by gender and place could provide insights into underlying pathways.

Leave a Reply