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Multiple health behaviours among mothers and partners in England: clustering, social patterning and intra-couple concordance

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Publication details

JournalSSM - Population Health
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2016
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2016
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)824-833
Early online date27/10/16
Original languageEnglish


Research on multiple health behaviours is increasing but little is known about parental behaviours and how they covary. Our study investigates cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption and physical activity among mothers and co-resident partners in England. Using the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we examined (i) clustering of health behaviours using observed-expected ratios and latent class analysis (ii) socio-demographic correlates of the derived latent classes and (iii) intra-couple concordance of individual health behaviours and their latent classes. We identified five latent classes for mothers and partners: Never smoked drinkers (28% of mothers; 29% of partners), Abstainers (25%; 17%), Drinkers and ex-smokers (19%; 26%), Unhealthy low frequency drinkers (18%; 16%) and Unhealthiest behaviour group (11%; 12%). These had distinctive social profiles. Never smoked drinkers were more likely than those in other groups to be white and socially advantaged: married, older, and with higher educational qualifications and incomes. Abstainers were non-smokers who never or occasionally drank, and were disproportionately drawn from ethnic minority groups and middle/lower income families. Drinkers and ex-smokers were the most physically active group and were more likely to be socially advantaged. Unhealthy low frequency drinkers were more likely to be disadvantaged and have a limiting long-standing illness. The Unhealthiest behaviour group had the highest proportion of smokers, heavy smokers and binge drinkers and the lowest F&V intake and physical activity levels. They were largely white and socially disadvantaged: younger, non-married and with lower educational levels. Mothers and their partners typically shared the same risk behaviours, and 44 per cent of partners and mothers belonged to the same latent class. Our findings point to the potential for a broadening of research and policy perspectives, from separate behaviours to combinations of behaviours, and from individuals to the domestic units and communities of which they are part.

    Research areas

  • Alcohol consumption, Cigarette smoking, Diet, Latent class analysis, Physical activity, Social inequalities

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