Association between lipid biomarkers, physical activity, and socioeconomic status in a population-based cross-sectional study in the UK

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Sports Medicine - Open


Heather Brown and Frauke Becker

Publication date


Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of global death. Physical activity can help individuals reduce their CVD risk. However, the biological mechanisms explaining the link between physical activity and CVD risk and how they may be mediated by socioeconomic status are not well understood. Methods: We use cross-sectional data from 2010/2011 of the Understanding Society Survey, UK, to investigate the association between two biomarkers for CVD risk: cholesterol ratio and triglyceride levels and four different measures of physical activity: moderate, mild, self-reported activity rating, and walking 30 min or more a week using multivariate logistic regression. The analysis investigates if this association is mediated by socioeconomic status and difficulty accessing sports facilities. Results: Results from multivariate regressions show that moderate and self-reported activity rating are significantly associated with cholesterol ratio and triglycerides for both men and women. A weaker association was found for walking 30 min or more a week. No association was found between mild physical activity and the two biomarkers. There is some evidence that socioeconomic status mediates the relationship between the biomarkers and physical activity. A significant association between socioeconomic status variables and the biomarkers was found only for women. Conclusions: We provide some evidence of the mechanisms explaining the link between CVD risk and physical activity by finding an association with traditional lipid biomarkers. We also find that intensity of physical activity matters. Socioeconomic status especially for women is important which may explain some of the inequalities in CVD risk.

Volume and page numbers

2:25, 1-10





Medicine, Health, Sport, Social Stratification and Biology


Open Access article; © The Author(s). 2016; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.