Human development, occupational structure and physical inactivity among 47 low and middle income countries

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Abstract

This study aimed to (a) assess the relationship between a person's occupational category and their physical inactivity, and (b) analyze the association among country-level variables and physical inactivity. The World Health Survey (WHS) was administered in 2002-2003 among 47 low- and middle-income countries (n = 196,742). The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was used to collect verbal reports of physical activity and convert responses into measures of physical inactivity. Economic development (GDP/c), degree of urbanization, and the Human Development Index (HDI) were used to measure country-level variables and physical inactivity. Multilevel logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association among country-level factors, individual occupational status, and physical inactivity. Overall, the worldwide prevalence of physical inactivity in 2002-2003 was 23.7%. Individuals working in the white-collar industry compared to agriculture were 84% more likely to be physically inactive (OR: 1.84, CI: 1.73-1.95). Among low- and middle-income countries increased HDI values were associated with decreased levels of physical inactivity (OR: 0.98, CI: 0.97-0.99). This study is one of the first to adjust for within-country differences, specifically occupation while analyzing physical inactivity. As countries experience economic development, changes are also seen in their occupational structure, which result in increased countrywide physical inactivity levels.

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Atkinson, K., Lowe, S., & Moore, S. (2016). Human development, occupational structure and physical inactivity among 47 low and middle income countries. Preventive Medicine Reports, 3, 40–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2015.11.009

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