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Letters Breadlines, brains, and behaviour

Executive functioning affects health behaviour in older people too

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 16 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7440
  1. David McMinn, research fellow1,
  2. Julia Allan, lecturer2,
  3. Michael Daly, senior lecturer3
  1. 1Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK
  2. 2Health Psychology Group, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Aberdeen, UK
  3. 3Behavioural Science Centre, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  1. david.mcminn{at}

Marteau and Hall provide interesting insight into the important links between early life environments, poverty, deleterious health behaviours, and the cognitive abilities used to control such behaviours—the “executive functions.”1 They suggest that associations between early life exposure to poverty and subsequent reductions in executive functions contribute to health inequalities. They also acknowledge the possibility of bidirectionality in this association: “those starting life with …

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