Lower socioeconomic position linked to adult obesity across generations

January 10, 2017, Public Library of Science

Both childhood and adult socioeconomic position (SEP) continue to be associated with adult body mass index (BMI) in Britain despite policies designed to reduce BMI inequalities, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine by David Bann, from the UCL Institute of Education, UK, and colleagues.

Previous studies have found that lower SEP is associated with higher adult BMI, but whether those associations have changed over the past decades was unclear. In the new study, researchers examined data on 22,810 people enrolled in three British birth cohort studies: the 1946 MRC National Survey of Health and Development, including people aged 20 to 64; the 1958 National Child Development Study, including people aged 23 to 50; and the 1970 British Birth Cohort Study, including people aged 26 to 42. Data were collected on each person's SEP as a child (based on father's occupation) and adult (based on own occupation), and on their BMI throughout adulthood.

Lower SEP in childhood was associated with higher adult BMI in both genders and in all cohorts. This association increased with age—the older someone got, the greater the influence of childhood SEP on BMI. The association between adult SEP and BMI was generally stronger in women than men and in more recent years, although not as individual people aged. For example, among those born in 1946, 42-43 year-old women in the lowest SEP group (unskilled occupations) had a BMI 2.0 kg/m2 higher than those in the highest SEP group (professional occupations); among those born in 1970 that difference had grown to 3.9 kg/m2.

"The persistence of inequalities in BMI throughout adulthood across different generations suggests that new and/or improved strategies are required to reduce them," the authors say. "Given our findings of progressively widening BMI inequalities across adulthood, and the fact that BMI tends to track across life, interventions may be most effective when initiated as early in life as possible."

Explore further: Tackling early socioeconomic inequality as important as encouraging smoking cessation

More information: David Bann et al, Socioeconomic Inequalities in Body Mass Index across Adulthood: Coordinated Analyses of Individual Participant Data from Three British Birth Cohort Studies Initiated in 1946, 1958 and 1970, PLOS Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002214

Related Stories

Tackling early socioeconomic inequality as important as encouraging smoking cessation

November 18, 2013
Although health behaviours such as smoking are directly linked to the majority of early deaths in the UK, tackling these individual factors fails to address the underlying cause. To get to the root of the problem, childhood ...

Serious childhood infection tied to metabolic disease later in life

August 17, 2015
(HealthDay)—Infection-related hospitalization (IRH) during childhood is independently associated with adverse adult metabolic variables, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in Pediatrics.

Premature baby girls shorter as adults

December 12, 2016
Baby girls born very premature could be almost three times more likely to grow into very short adults than female babies born at term, according to a new international study.

Study links self-reported childhood abuse to death in women years later

August 17, 2016
A study of a large number of middle-aged adults suggests self-reported childhood abuse by women was associated with an increased long-term risk of death, according to an article published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

Study estimates ADHD symptom persistence into adulthood

September 19, 2016
Sixty percent of children with ADHD in a recent study demonstrated persistence of symptoms into their mid-20's, and 41 percent had both symptoms and impairment as young adults.

Conscientiousness in childhood is a predictor of adult smoking behavior

March 23, 2015
Conscientious children are less likely to smoke in later life and the personality trait could help explain health inequalities, indicates a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Recommended for you

Evening hours may pose higher risk for overeating, especially when under stress, study finds

January 16, 2018
Experiments with a small group of overweight men and women have added to evidence that "hunger hormone" levels rise and "satiety (or fullness) hormone" levels decrease in the evening. The findings also suggest that stress ...

Bariatric surgery prolongs lifespan in obese

January 16, 2018
Obese, middle-age men and women who had bariatric surgery have half the death rate of those who had traditional medical treatment over a 10-year period, reports a study that answers questions about the long-term risk of the ...

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.