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HBSC Network: Socioeconomic inequalities in adolescent health (2002–2010): a 34 country comparison

The direct connection between social inequalities and health disparities is already well established. However, we know much less about the way that inequities experienced during childhood can influence long-term adult health and wellbeing. 

Members of the HBSC network, led by Professor Frank Elgar (HBSC Canada), have helped to shine a light on this little understood yet critically important area of research. The study, published today in the Lancet, examined secular trends in data from 34 countries participating in the HBSC study. Their analysis investigated socioeconomic inequalities and health disparities among adolescents in factors which contribute to non-communicable diseases (cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease) - the leading cause of death worldwide.

The researchers - including HBSC teams in Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland - found that rising national wealth across high income countries was associated with both health improvements (higher levels of physical activity and increased life satisfaction) and health declines (increased BMI, and higher levels of psychological and physical symptoms of ill health) among adolescents. 

The study's findings show that socioeconomic inequality has increased in many domains of adolescent health - and that this has coincided with the unequal distribution of income between rich and poor. 

Widening gaps in adolescent health could predict future inequalities in adult health, and demand urgent action in order to limit future burden in healthcare costs. Improved health policies must look beyond average levels of population health and disease prevalence to tackle unjust inequities in health across increasingly disparate socioeconomic conditions.

see here for further details
contact: Mr Joe Hancock

item 2742
[04-02-2015 to 13-05-2015]


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