The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of different socio-economic variables on the lifestyle factors, like lack of physical activity, diet rich in meat, and smoking, across sex and age groups in the general Austrian population to formulate more targeted public health measures.
The Austrian Health Interview Survey 2006–07 contains data of 15,474 people, representative for the general population. Statistical analyses included linear and logistic regression models.
Lack of physical activity was more prevalent in women, while unhealthy nutrition and daily smoking were more prevalent in men. Overall, profession was the strongest predictor for health behaviour in men, while the educational level played the most significant role in women. Subjects in higher age groups had a more healthy nutrition and were less likely to smoke, but had a higher chance for lack of physical activity.
Socio-economic factors predict lifestyle choices differently in different age groups. For example, in men, the highest percentage of daily smokers was found in the middle age, while the youngest age group was the one that smoked the most in women. Furthermore, the educational level had a reverse effect on women in the oldest age group, where those with tertiary education smoked three times more than those with less education. Our results emphasise the importance of taking a holistic approach towards health, including educational, cultural and age-specific policies to improve the overall health status and health equality of a population.