The study examines sociodemographic variation in associations and co-occurrence of health behaviours that contribute to multifactorial chronic diseases.
Mantel-Haenszel odds ratios were used to examine pairwise associations among smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, and diet across categories of sociodemographic characteristics. Breslow-Day test for homogeneity was used to test for sociodemographic differences. In addition, co-occurrence of each two unhealthy behaviours was examined across sociodemographic groups using nationwide population survey data from 26,014 Finnish adults.
Most of the health behaviours examined were interrelated and sociodemographic differences in the associations were few. Differences were inconsistent for all sociodemographic characteristics. Variation was observed only in the strength of the associations, not in their direction. However, due to unequal distribution of the individual behaviours, co-occurrence of unhealthy behaviours varied strongly across sociodemographic groups.
Associations between health behaviours were relatively similar across sociodemographic groups. Since co-occurrence of unhealthy behaviours depends on the prevalence of individual unhealthy behaviours and the strength of their association, their co-occurrence in any particular sociodemographic group was primarily determined by the prevalence of individual unhealthy behaviours.