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Risto Telama, Lauri Laakso, Heimo Nupponen, Arja Rimpelä, and Lasse Pere

The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between youth physical activity and family socioeconomic status (FSES) over 28 years. As a part of the Finnish Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey a random sample of 12-, 15- and 18-year-old boys and girls participated in a nation-wide survey by answering questions every second year, from 1977 to 2005, on, among other things, leisure time physical activity and sport participation. Father’s education represented FSES. The results showed that there were no significant or only small differences between the high and low FSES groups in unorganised physical activity during the study period. Participation in physical activities organized by the school was not associated with FSES. Participation in youth sport organized by sport clubs was strongly associated with FSES in both sexes. The young people in the high FSES groups participated more than those in the low FSES groups. It was concluded that considerable inequality exists in youth sport participation, that this inequality has been growing during the last decade, and that it is bigger among girls than among boys.