Socioeconomic status and non-communicable disease behavioural risk factors in low-income and lower-middle-income countries: a systematic review

Allen, Luke and Williams, Julianne and Townsend, Nick and Mikkelsen, Bente and Roberts, Nia and Foster, Charlie and Wickramasinghe, Kremlin (2017) Socioeconomic status and non-communicable disease behavioural risk factors in low-income and lower-middle-income countries: a systematic review. The Lancet Global Health, 5 (3). e277-e289. ISSN 0140-6736


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Background Non-communicable diseases are the leading global cause of death and disproportionately affl ict those living in low-income and lower-middle-income countries (LLMICs). The association between socioeconomic status and non-communicable disease behavioural risk factors is well established in high-income countries, but it is not clear how behavioural risk factors are distributed within LLMICs. We aimed to systematically review evidence on the association between socioeconomic status and harmful use of alcohol, tobacco use, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity within LLMICs. Methods We searched 13 electronic databases, including Embase and MEDLINE, grey literature, and reference lists for primary research published between Jan 1, 1990, and June 30, 2015. We included studies from LLMICs presenting data on multiple measures of socioeconomic status and tobacco use, alcohol use, diet, and physical activity. No age or language restrictions were applied. We excluded studies that did not allow comparison between more or less advantaged groups. We used a piloted version of the Cochrane Eff ective Practice and Organisation of Care Group data collection checklist to extract relevant data at the household and individual level from the included full text studies including study type, methods, outcomes, and results. Due to high heterogeneity, we used a narrative approach for data synthesis. We used descriptive statistics to assess whether the prevalence of each risk factor varied signifi cantly between members of diff erent socioeconomic groups. The study protocol is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42015026604. Findings After reviewing 4242 records, 75 studies met our inclusion criteria, representing 2 135 314 individuals older than 10 years from 39 LLMICs. Low socioeconomic groups were found to have a signifi cantly higher prevalence of tobacco and alcohol use than did high socioeconomic groups. These groups also consumed less fruit, vegetables, fi sh, and fi bre than those of high socioeconomic status. High socioeconomic groups were found to be less physically active and consume more fats, salt, and processed food than individuals of low socioeconomic status. While the included studies presented clear patterns for tobacco use and physical activity, heterogeneity between dietary outcome measures and a paucity of evidence around harmful alcohol use limit the certainty of these fi ndings. Interpretation Despite signifi cant heterogeneity in exposure and outcome measures, clear evidence shows that the burden of behavioural risk factors is aff ected by socioeconomic position within LLMICs. Governments seeking to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.4—reducing premature non-communicable disease mortality by a third by 2030—should leverage their development budgets to address the poverty-health nexus in these settings. Our fi ndings also have signifi cance for health workers serving these populations and policy makers tasked with preventing and controlling the rise of non-communicable diseases.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health
Divisions: Faculty of Medicin
Depositing User: Touba Derakhshande
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2017 06:24
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2017 06:24

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