Life-Course Socioeconomic Status and Obesity Among Older Singaporean Chinese Men and Women

Malhotra, Rahul; Malhotra, Chetna; Chan, Angelique; Østbye, Truls
January 2013
Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences & Socia;Jan2013, Vol. 68 Issue 1, p117
Academic Journal
Objectives. To elucidate the association between life-course socioeconomic status (SES) and obesity among older (aged 60 and older) Singaporean Chinese men and women. Methods. Data from the Social Isolation, Health and Lifestyles Survey (single-stage stratified random sampling design) was utilized. Obesity (body mass index >27.4kg/m2) was assessed for 1,530 men and 2,036 women. Childhood (family financial status while growing up), adult (education), and older adult (housing type) SES indicators were used to define the accumulation of risk (cumulative socioeconomic disadvantage), social mobility (8 trajectories using the 3 SES indicators), and sensitive period (independent effect of each SES indicator) conceptual models. Association between the 3 life-course SES conceptual models and obesity was assessed using logistic regression analysis. Results. Among women and men, low childhood SES lowered the odds of obesity. Low adult SES increased the odds of obesity only among women. There was no association between cumulative socioeconomic disadvantage and obesity. Women experiencing upward social mobility had lower odds of obesity relative to both those experiencing low SES and high SES through the life-course. Discussion. Association of the life-course SES conceptual models with obesity among older Singaporeans is different from that reported among younger Western populations, suggesting the association to be context specific. The different conceptual models complement each other.


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