UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

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

Bann, D; Johnson, W; Li, L; Kuh, D; Hardy, RJ; (2017) 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 , 14 (1) , Article e1002214. 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002214. Green open access

[thumbnail of journal.pmed.1002214.pdf]
Preview
Text
journal.pmed.1002214.pdf - Published Version

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

Background: High body mass index (BMI) is an important contributor to the global burden of ill health and health inequality. Lower socioeconomic position (SEP) in both childhood and adulthood (SEP) is associated with higher adult BMI, but how these associations have changed across time is poorly understood. We used longitudinal data to examine how childhood and adult SEP relates to BMI across adulthood in three national British birth cohorts. / Methods and Findings: The sample comprised up to 22,810 participants with 77,115 BMI observations in the 1946 MRC National Survey of Health and Development (ages 20 to 60-64), 1958 National Child Development Study (ages 23 to 50), and 1970 British Cohort Study (ages 26 to 42). Harmonized social class-based SEP data (Registrar General’s Social Class) was ascertained in childhood (father’s class at 10/11 years) and adulthood (42/43 years), and BMI repeatedly across adulthood, spanning 1966 to 2012. Associations between SEP and BMI were examined using linear regression and multilevel models. Lower childhood SEP was associated with higher adult BMI in both genders, and differences were typically larger at older ages and similar in magnitude in each cohort. The strength of association between adult SEP and BMI did not vary with age in any consistent pattern in these cohorts, but were more evident in women than men, and among women inequalities were larger in the 1970 compared with earlier-born cohorts. For example, mean differences in BMI at 42/43 years amongst women in the lowest compared with highest social class were 2.0 kg/m2 (95% CI: -0.1, 4.0) in the 1946 NSHD, 2.3 kg/m2 (1.1, 3.4) in 1958 NCDS, and 3.9 kg/m2 (2.3, 5.4) in the 1970 BCS; mean (SD) BMI in the highest and lowest social classes were as follows: 24.9 (0.8) vs 26.8 (0.7) in 1946 NSHD, 24.2 (0.4) vs 26.5 (0.4) in 1958 NCDS, and 24.2 (0.3) vs 28.1 (0.8) in 1970 BCS. Findings did not differ whether using overweight/obesity as an outcome. Limitations of this work include the use of social class as the sole indicator of SEP—while it was available in each cohort in both childhood and adulthood, trends in BMI inequalities may differ according to other dimensions of SEP such as education or income. Although harmonized data were used to aid inferences about birth cohort differences in BMI inequality, differences in other factors may have also contributed to findings—for example, differences in missing data. / Conclusions: Given these persisting inequalities and their public health implications, new and effective policies to reduce inequalities in adult BMI are urgently required which tackle inequality with respect to both childhood and adult SEP.

Type: Article
Title: 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
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002214
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002214
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 Bann et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: socioeconomic factors; obesity; overweight; cross-cohort analysis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Population, Policy and Practice Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1532868
Downloads since deposit
156Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item