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OP66 Does an elite education benefit health, exercise, and sedentary behaviour in early midlife? findings from the 1970 british cohort study
  1. D Bann,
  2. M Hamer,
  3. GB Ploubidis,
  4. A Sullivan
  1. Centre for Longitudinal Studies, UCL Institute of Education, London, UK


Background There is increasing evidence that attending private school or an elite university benefits future earnings, independent of the level of education ultimately attained. However, it is unclear if these benefits extend to advantages in health or health-related behaviours which may partly depend on financial resources. We examined whether these indicators of education quality during schooling and university were associated with self-rated health, sedentary behaviour and exercise at 42 years in the 1970 British Cohort Study.

Methods Data were from 3927 men and 4421 women from the 1970 British birth Cohort Study with available data for education and outcome measures. The type of high school attended (private or comprehensive and other types) was derived from school interviews and records at 16 years, and the university attended was recalled at 42 years (categorised as either an elite Russell Group institution or other institutions). Self-rated health (poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent), average time spent watching television during weekdays (0 to <1 h, 1 to <3, 3 to <5, or ≥5 h/day) and frequency of exercise and sports participation (0 or ≥1 occasion per week) were reported at 42 years and used as outcomes in ordered or binary logistic regression, adjusted for gender. We additionally tested gender and education interaction terms, since the benefits of elite education may differ by gender.

Results A total of 528 participants (6.3%) attended private school, and 556 (28.8%) of participants who attended university did so at an elite institution. Compared with attendance at comprehensive and other school types, private school attendance was associated with better self-rated health (OR, 95% CI: 1.66, 1.41–1.95), less time spent watching television (0.38, 0.32–0.45), and higher exercise frequency (1.35, 1.12–1.1.64). Attending an elite compared with non-elite university was also associated with higher self-rated health (1.32, 1.10–1.59), less time spent watching television (0.59, 0.49–0.72), and with higher exercise frequency (1.26, 1.01–1.57). There was little evidence that associations differed by gender (p > 0.05 for all interaction terms).

Conclusion Private school and elite university attendance were related to better self-rated health, less time spent watching  television, and higher exercise frequency in early midlife. Although further research is required to examine the factors which underlie these relationships, findings suggest that a higher  education quality may have persisting benefits for adult health and some health-impacting behaviours.

  • Socioeconomic inequalities
  • education
  • life course epidemiology

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