Physical (in)activity over 20y in adulthood: Associations with adult lipid levels in the 1958 British birth cohort

Myung Ki, Theodora Pouliou, Leah Li, Chris Power

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To investigate associations between physical (in)activity at different life-stages and lipids in mid-adulthood, examining the role of potential confounding and mediating factors, such as adiposity. Methods: Data from the 1958 British birth cohort (n= 7824) were examined. Using linear regression, we analysed prospectively reported frequency of activity and TV-viewing (23, 33, 42 and 45. y) in relation to total, LDL-, HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, at 45. y. Results: Activity at different ages was associated with HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides at 45. y: e.g. in men, a 1 day/week greater activity frequency at 42. y was associated with 0.006. mmol/L higher HDL-cholesterol and 1.4% lower triglycerides. Most associations attenuated, but were not entirely explained by adjustment for covariates (life-styles and socio-economic factors): e.g. among men, the estimated 2.0% lower triglycerides per 1 day/week greater frequency at 33. y reduced to 1.8% after adjustment. Among women, though not men, activity at both 23 and 45. y contributed cumulatively to HDL-cholesterol. For sedentary behaviour, associations were found for sitting at work: a 1. h/day greater sitting among men was associated with a 0.012. mmol/L lower HDL-cholesterol after adjustment for covariates. Associations were seen for TV-viewing: e.g. in men, a 0.04. mmol/L lower HDL-cholesterol and 5.9% higher triglycerides per hour/day greater TV-viewing at 45. y, attenuated, respectively, to 0.03. mmol/L and 4.6% after adjustment for covariates. Associations attenuated further after adjustment for current BMI. Associations for total and LDL-cholesterol were less consistent. Conclusion: Activity and sedentary behaviour at different adult ages were associated with HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides in mid-adulthood. Associations were partly mediated by other life-style factors and by BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-367
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MK and TP were supported by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme through the Public Health Research Consortium. The views expressed in the publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Health. Information about the wider programme of the PHRC is available from . Leah Li was supported by an MRC Career Development Award in Biostatistics. We are grateful to participants in the 2002–2004 clinical follow-up of the 1958 birth cohort and to the Medical Research Council for grant support ( G0000934 ) for this survey. The GOSH/UCL Institute of Child Health was supported in part by the Department of Health's NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. The Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics was supported in part by the Medical Research Council in its capacity as the MRC Centre of Epidemiology for Child Health.


  • Birth cohort
  • Lipids
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • TV-viewing
  • Work activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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