Cross-Cultural Comparison of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise Science adn Sport Studies



Major Advisor

Linda M. Petlichkoff


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in New Zealand with approximately 43% of all deaths attributed to this disease (New Zealand Health Information Service, 1997). These statistics are comparative in the United States where 41.1% of all deaths are a result of cardiovascular disease (D. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1997). Cardiovascular disease is viewed as preventable, in that, risk factors tend to be within the individual's control. The four most prevalent risk factors include physical inactivity, a poor cholesterol profile, smoking, and hypertension (Hoeger & Hoeger, 1997). This study was designed to examine three prevalent cardiovascular disease risk factors from a cross-cultural perspective. A questionnaire developed by researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand was utilized to assess samples regarding physical activity, diet, smoking, and lifestyle behaviors. Volunteers N = 342) included corporate workers, students, older adults, Presbyterian church members, and school personnel. Data was collected at a time convenient to respondents. All volunteers were asked to complete an informed consent form and questionnaire. It was hypothesized that: (a) no significant difference will be reported in mild or moderate physical activity between samples; (b) New Zealanders will significantly report more vigorous or strenuous physical activity as compared to the American sample; (c) New Zealanders' diets will report a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables; (d) New Zealanders' diet will report a higher consumption of saturated fat as compared to the American sample; (e) no significant difference will emerge in smoking habits between these two samples; and, (f) New Zealanders will demonstrate a more active leisure-time lifestyle when compared to the American sample. A series of MANOVAs were conducted with follow-up one-way ANOVAs employed when significant differences emerged. In general, results indicated that the New Zealand and American sample are physically active at either a moderate or vigorous intensity. New Zealanders typically consume eggs, red meat, and vegetables more frequently than the American sample and a higher percentage of New Zealanders in this study smoked when compared to American sample. Overall, there tends to be a continued lack of cardiovascular disease risk factor control among respondents sampled.

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