Press releases

Social inequalities in health linked to diet and physical activity

Press release | 14 May 2014 - 9h45 | By INSERM PRESS OFFICE
Public health

A collective expert review by Inserm

Major social inequalities in health exist in France like other countries. These are reflected in varying rates of morbidity and mortality depending on individuals’ position on the socio-economic scale. For example, at 35, senior executives’ life expectancy is 6 years longer than that of manual workers. Lifestyle habits such as drinking, smoking, diet and physical activity are recognised as key determiners of health. A social gradient exists for health-related behaviour which manifests in childhood and lasts until old age.

One of the new focuses of the third period of the Programme National Nutrition-Santé [National Nutrition and Health Programme] (PNNS) (2011-2015) is to minimise social inequalities in health linked to diet (diet and physical activity). In this context, the Direction Générale de la Santé [Directorate General for Healthcare] (DGS) has asked Inserm to perform a review of scientific knowledge on social differentiation determiners in the area of nutrition and of the various intervention strategies that could be used to limit these inequalities.

In response to this request, Inserm formed a multidisciplinary group of experts on epidemiology, public health, human and social sciences, health economics, clinical research and geography.

The experts’ analysis of data from recent international scientific literature was used to evaluate nutritional disparities based on individuals’ socio-economic standing. The social, cultural, economic and environmental factors involved in creating social inequalities in nutrition were analysed. The experts also studied the impact of interventions and prevention policies based on socio-economic standing and identified the most effective strategies for limiting social inequality in the area of diet and physical activity.

In conclusion, the experts recommend designing and promoting programmes which benefit the entire population as well as actions targeting various social groups based on the risks and requirements they face.

Read a summary of the collective expert review and the full review (only in French)

Press release – Inserm press room Social inequalities in health linked to diet and physical activity Link :
Researcher Contact

Experts France CAILLAVET, Inra UR 1303 ALISS, Alimentation et sciences sociales, Ivry sur Seine Katia CASTETBON, InVS, Unité de surveillance et d’épidémiologie nutritionnelle (USEN), Bobigny Christine CESAR, Inpes, Direction de l’animation des territoires et des réseaux (DATER), Saint Denis Basile CHAIX, UMR 707 Inserm/Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Épidémiologie Systèmes d’information Modélisation – Déterminants sociaux de la santé et du recours aux soins, Paris Hélène CHARREIRE, Université Paris Est, Lab-Urba, Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris, UPEC, Créteil Nicole DARMON, UMR NORT (Nutrition, obésité et risque thrombotique), INRA 1260, INSERM 1062, Université Aix-Marseille, Faculté de Médecine de la Timone, Marseille Thibaut DE SAINT POL, Genes, Centre de recherche en économie et statistique, Laboratoire de sociologie quantitative, Paris Thierry LANG, Inserm U 558, Maladies chroniques, pratiques de soins et facteurs socio-économiques, Toulouse Stéphane RICAN, Inserm CEC1/Université Paris Ouest, Laboratoire Espace Santé Territoire, Paris Monique ROMON, Université Lille 2, Faculté de médecine, Service de nutrition, Lille Archana SINGH-MANOUX, Inserm U 1018, Centre de recherche en épidémiologie et santé des populations, Villejuif Louis-Georges SOLER, Inra UR 1303 ALISS, Alimentation et sciences sociales, Ivry sur Seine Anne VUILLEMIN, Université de Lorraine, Université Paris Descartes, Apemac, EA 4360, Faculté du Sport, Nancy

Press Contact

Juliette Hardy

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