"Being healthy is highly valued by most individuals, but, on the other hand, acting in a health-promoting way in our day-to-day lives is not easy. Most people know that refraining from tobacco and alcohol, getting regular physical activity, and eating fruit and vegetables increases one’s chances to live a longer and healthier life, but find these behaviours difficult to adhere to. What we observe in the Netherlands -as in many other countries- is that healthy behaviours are even less likely practiced by low compared to high socioeconomic groups. Why is this the case? The fact that very different health-related behaviours follow the same socioeconomic gradient suggests that the causes should likely be looked for in non-behaviour-specific factors, e.g. sociocultural and material living circumstances. With my research, I aim to better understand how the circumstances under which people grow up, reside, work, and age differ between low and high socioeconomic groups, and how these differences contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in health-behaviours. These insights may provide valuable input for policies and interventions that aim to reduce the gap in health and health-behaviours between low and high socioeconomic groups. In my talk, I will discuss what we already know about the role of sociocultural and material circumstances for socioeconomic inequalities in health-related behaviours, some recent insights from current research projects I’m involved in, and important future research challenges."
Carlijn Kamphuis is an Associate Professor of Public Health at the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science, of Utrecht University. She has a background in public health and health promotion. Last year, she was a research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in Amsterdam. Currently, she is work package leader of the Policy Evaluation Network – a JPI-funded European network aiming to evaluate European-level and national-level policies that affect physical activity and healthy food choices in European countries (http://www.jpi-pen.eu). In the city of Utrecht, she collaborates with policy makers, architects, and housing corporations to develop a systems-based strategy for reducing health inequalities.