What Explains the Socioeconomic Status gap in Youth Physical Activity?


  • N. Hankonen
  • E. Kujala
  • S.-T. Hynynen
  • A. Haukkala
  • P. Absetz
  • K. Borodulin
  • V. Araujo-Soares
  • F.Sniehotta
  • T. Lintunen


Background: We have a limited understanding of factors that explain socioeconomic differences in physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviors: Studies have investigated a narrow range of determinants at a time, and so far only few investigated whether SES moderates determinant-behaviour associations. Methods: A range of known psychological, social and environmental determinants for PA and screen time, in line with the COM-B model domains of capability, opportunity and motivation, were measured among Finnish vocational and high school students (N= 659), including validated measures for the behaviours. Results: Significant differences between vocational and high school students were found in 13 out of 18 PA determinants, e.g. less PA self-monitoring, lower injunctive norms and intentions among vocational school students. There were fewer socioeconomic differences in the levels of screen time determinants. Associations to behaviours were however largely similar between groups. Conclusions: The results help explain SES differences in health behaviours and aid in building better targeted interventions that are sensitive to socioeconomic differences in the mediators of the intervention effect.