Your money or your time? How both types of scarcity matter to physical activity and healthy eating

Danielle Venn, Lyndall Strazdins*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    86 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Rationale Lack of time is one of the most common reasons people give for not exercising or eating healthy food, yet few studies explicitly test its relationship with health behaviours. Objective Conceptualising time as a social determinant we estimate how scarcity — of income or time — generate barriers to health behaviours. Methods Using longitudinal, nationally-representative survey data on Australians aged 25–54 years, our design addresses endogeneity and reverse causation by considering how new episodes of scarcity are related to changes in healthy eating and physical activity. Regression models estimated how scarcity of income (low income or feeling poor) or time (heavy time commitments or feeling rushed for time) predicted change over two consecutive years. Results We find that both income and time scarcity reduce physical activity and, in some cases, lead people to consume less fruit and vegetables, eat out more and eat more discretionary calories (food high in salt, sugar or fat). Further, income and time scarcity operate independently to constrain healthy choices, although for more than one in ten people they synergistically increase risk. Conclusion Because income and time scarcity are patterned by socio-economic status and gender, our results underline the need to address both if public health interventions are to be more effective and fair.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)98-106
    Number of pages9
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Volume172
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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