European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 77–85

Relationship of socioeconomic status with cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle in a Mediterranean population

  • Helmut Schröder
  • Izabella Rohlfs
  • Eva Maria Schmelz
  • Jaume Marrugat
  • for the REGICOR investigators*

DOI: 10.1007/s00394-004-0443-9

Cite this article as:
Schröder, H., Rohlfs, I., Schmelz, E.M. et al. Eur J Nutr (2004) 43: 77. doi:10.1007/s00394-004-0443-9



Socioeconomic status greatly affects cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle. Aim of the study To analyse the relationship between socioeconomic status and both cardiovascular risk factors and behavioural variables.

Aim of the study:

To analyse the relationship between socioeconomic status and both cardiovascular risk factors and behavioural variables.


The present random sample of 838 men and 910 women of the 25 to 74 year old general population of Gerona according to the 1991 census, included cardiovascular risk factor measurements (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glycaemia, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, waist to hip ratio, and waist circumferences) and evaluation of dietary habits, alcohol consumption, smoking, and leisure-time physical activity with corresponding questionnaires.


In this study, we used lifestyle factors (leisure-time physical activity, tobacco consumption, and alcohol drinking habits) in addition to dietary habits to determine whether changes in these factors correlate with the socioeconomic status, classified as degree of educational level, in a representative Spanish Mediterranean population. Multiple linear regression analysis adjusted for several confounders revealed a direct association of LDL-cholesterol (p = 0.03) and body mass index (p = 0.02) with low levels of educational status in men and women, respectively. A higher educational status was directly (p = 0.04) related to the smoking status in women. The two composite dietary scores, indicating overall dietary quality and cardiovascular protecting properties, were not associated with low socioeconomic status in our population.


Dietary habits, alcohol drinking, and leisure-time physical activity seems not to be affected by educational status in either gender. This finding might partially explain the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and socioeconomic status in our population. The importance of cultural values in the rural area of the Spanish province seems to be the stronger factor compared with education.

Key words

educational level SES cardiovascular risk factors lifestyle nutrient intake Mediterranean diet 

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helmut Schröder
    • 1
    • 2
  • Izabella Rohlfs
    • 3
  • Eva Maria Schmelz
    • 4
  • Jaume Marrugat
    • 1
  • for the REGICOR investigators*
  1. 1.Lipids and Cardiovascular Epidemiology UnitInstitut Municipal d’Investigació Mèdica, IMIMBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Sports Medicine Barcelona, Dept. of NutritionBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Cardiology Unit HospitalUniversitari Josep TruetaGeronaSpain
  4. 4.Karmanos Center InstituteWayne State School of MedicineDetroitUSA

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