Incidence of cardiovascular risk factors by education level 2000-2005: the Australian diabetes, obesity, and lifestyle (AusDiab) cohort study


  • Alison Beauchamp Monash University
  • Rory Wolfe Monash University
  • Dianna Magliano Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
  • Gavin Turrell Queensland University of Technology
  • Andrew Tonkin Monash University
  • Jonathan Shaw Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
  • Anna Peeters Monash University



Socioeconomic status, risk factor incidence, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity


Lower socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with a higher prevalence of major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).  However, few longitudinal studies have examined the association between SES and CVD risk factors over time.  We aimed to determine whether SES, using education as a proxy, is associated with the onset of CVD risk factors over 5 years in an Australian adult cohort study.

 Participants in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study (AusDiab) study aged 25 years and over who attended both baseline and 5-year follow-up examinations (n=5 967) were categorised according to educational attainment.  Cardiovascular risk factor data at both time points were ascertained through questionnaire and physical measurement. 

Women with lower education had a greater risk of progressing from normal weight to overweight or obesity than those with higher education (age-adjusted OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.06-2.31).  Both men and women with lower education were more likely to develop diabetes (age-adjusted OR from higher education 1.75, 95% CI 1.14-2.71 and 3.01, 95% CI 1.26-7.20, respectively).  A lower level of education was associated with a greater number of risk factors accumulated over time in women (OR of progressing from having two or less risk factors at baseline to three or more at follow up, 2.04, 95% 1.32-3.14).

 In this Australian population-based study, lower educational attainment was associated with an increased risk of developing both individual and total CVD risk factors over a 5-year period.  These findings suggest that SES inequalities in CVD will persist into the future.