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Television viewing and other screen-based entertainment in relation to multiple socioeconomic status indicators and area deprivation: the Scottish Health Survey 2003


Background: Sedentary behaviour (sitting) is detrimental to health, independently of participation in physical activity. Socioeconomic position (SEP) is known to relate strongly to physical activity participation but we know very little about how SEP relates to sedentary behaviour. This study aimed to assess the relationships between SEP, neighbourhood deprivation and an index of sedentary time.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of a representative sample of 7940 Scottish adults who participated in the 2003 Scottish Health Survey, which collected information on SEP (household income, social class and education), neighbourhood deprivation (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation), television and other screen-based entertainment time, and physical activity.

Results: The three indicators of SEP and deprivation index were independently of each other associated with daily times of television and other screen-based entertainment, even after adjustment for occupational and leisure-time physical activity, health status, smoking, alcohol drinking, car ownership and body mass index: income p = 0.002; social class p<0.001; education p<0.001, deprivation p<0.001. Also, there was a strong cumulative effect of SEP (a composite scale where 0 = lowest, 9 = highest SEP position) with those in the lowest SEP spending an additional 109 minutes each day on screen-based entertainment compared to those in the highest socioeconomic position (p<0.001 for linear trend).

Conclusion: Adverse socioeconomic position is associated with a cumulative increase in the time spent on screen-based entertainment. Reducing inequalities would be expected to reduce exposure to sedentary behaviours, such as excessive screen-based entertainment times, and therefore reduce the risk of chronic disease.

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