Socioeconomic adversity is strongly associated with health, but it is typically not treated as a modifiable risk factor in global health strategies. For example, the World Health Organization action plan to reduce non-communicable disease mortality by 25% by 2025 (25x25) only targets smoking, harmful alcohol use, salt intake, obesity, high blood pressure, and high glucose/diabetes. However, it is often the case that the population distribution of these factors is patterned by socioeconomic status.
To evaluate the importance of socioeconomic adversity as a risk factor, we will examine its associations with mortality and physical functioning and compare those to the associations of the 25x25 risk factors with the same outcomes. Pooling the multiple prospective cohort studies of the LIFEPATH consortium, we will determine, for example, how many years of life persons with socioeconomic adversity may loose compared to those living in favourable socioeconomic circumstances. One of the key questions is whether these differences in lost years of life between socioeconomic groups are comparable to those between persons with and without the six 25x25 risk factors.
The Lifepath study will be based on carefully harmonised European cohort studies and use pre-specified definitions of socioeconomic adversity and 25 x 25 factors. It will probably be the largest study on this issue so far, potentially informing future global health strategies to increase longevity and independent living.