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Journal Article

Educational differentials in key domains of physical activity by ethnicity, age and sex: a cross-sectional study of over 40 000 participants in the UK household longitudinal study (2013–2015)


Publication date

20 Jan 2020


Objectives: To assess whether educational differentials in three key physical activity (PA) domains vary by age, sex and ethnicity.
Design: National cross-sectional survey.
Setting: UK.
Participants: Altogether 40 270 participants, aged 20 years and over, from the UK Household Longitudinal Study with information on education, PA and demographics collected in 2013–2015.
Outcome measures: Participation in active travel (AT), occupational activity (OA) and leisure time physical activity (LTPA) at the time of assessment.
Results: Lower educational attainment was associated with higher AT and OA, but lower weekly LTPA activity; these associations were modified by sex, ethnicity and age. Education-related differences in AT were larger for women—the difference in predicted probability of activity between the highest and the lowest education groups was −10% in women (95% CI: −11.9% to 7.9%) and −3% in men (−4.8% to –0.4%). Education-related differences in OA were larger among men −35% (-36.9% to –32.4%) than women −17% (-19.4% to –15.0%). Finally, education-related differences in moderate-to-vigorous LTPA varied by ethnicity; for example, differences were 17% (16.2% to 18.7%) for white individuals compared with 6% (0.6% to 11.6%) for black individuals.
Conclusions: Educational differences in PA vary by domain and are modified by age, sex and ethnicity. A better understanding of physically inactive subgroups may aid development of interventions to both increase activity levels and reduce health inequalities.

Published in

BMJ Open







Demography, Education, Health, Sport, Commuting, and Travel


Open Access; This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:; © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.


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