Published: March 2011
Author(s): Ian Rees Jones, Olia Papacosta, Peter Whincup, Goya Wannamethee, Richard Morris

Sociology of Health & Illness 33(3) pp 399-419

Health lifestyles are collective patterns of health risk behaviour that develop within a social habitus. An important area for research is the extent to which health lifestyles become more individualised over time and as people age, or whether health lifestyles remain socially structured. This article presents findings from a Multiple Correspondence Analysis of the British Regional Heart Study. Our findings suggest that smoking and alcohol use retain a strong class patterning as men age (suggesting some support for the long-term importance of social structures in old age). This indicates that, in later life, some forms of class-related health lifestyles become fixed or ‘locked in’. In contrast there is evidence to suggest that, for exercise, class becomes less important as people age (suggesting either some support for growing individualisation and or important ageing effects). Further studies are required to examine different forms of health lifestyle in later life in relation to forms of cultural and economic capital. This study provides evidence in support of attempts to theorise health lifestyles in terms of collectivities. Furthermore, the concept of selective lifestyle ‘lock-in’ may be a useful way of understanding the relationship between class and health lifestyles in old age.

Keywords
class, health, lifestyles, Multiple Correspondence Analysis, UK, men, middle age