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Ann Hum Biol. 2016;43(2):144-53. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2015.1136357. Epub 2016 Feb 21.

Early childhood social disadvantage is associated with poor health behaviours in adulthood.

Author information

1
a Department of Anthropology , University of California , San Diego, La Jolla, CA , USA ;
2
b Department of Mathematics and Statistics , San Diego State University , San Diego , CA , USA ;
3
c Department of Medicine , Health, and Society, Vanderbilt University , Nashville , TN , USA ;
4
d Division of Intramural Population Health Research , Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development , Bethesda , MD , USA ;
5
e Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health , Boston , MA , USA ;
6
f Department of Epidemiology , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health , Boston , MA , USA ;
7
g Department of Epidemiology , Brown University , Providence , RI , USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Individual health behaviours are considered important risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases. These behaviours may be socially patterned by early exposure to social disadvantage, but few studies have prospectively tested this hypothesis empirically.

AIM:

This study investigated whether childhood social disadvantage was associated with likelihood of engaging in less healthy behaviours 40 years later.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

Prospective data were analysed from the New England Family Study, a 2005-2007 adult follow-up of a cohort initiated in 1959-1966 (n = 565). Childhood social environment (age 7 years) was assessed using a cumulative index of socioeconomic and family stability factors. Logistic regression models evaluated associations between social disadvantage and each health-related behaviour and obesity in adulthood.

RESULTS:

Relative to low disadvantage, higher disadvantage was associated with 3.6-fold greater odds of smoking (95% CI = 1.9-7.0), 4.8-fold greater odds (in women only) of excess alcohol consumption (95% CI = 1.6-14.2) and 2.7-fold greater odds of obesity (95% CI = 1.3-5.5), but was not associated with unhealthy diet or physical inactivity.

CONCLUSION:

These findings suggest childhood social disadvantage may contribute to adult cardiometabolic disease by predisposing children to adopt certain unhealthy behaviours. If replicated, such findings may support intervention strategies that target social environmental factors and behavioural pathways that are established early in life.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol; body mass index; childhood socioeconomic status; early life adversity; smoking

PMID:
26727037
PMCID:
PMC4977531
[Available on 2017-03-01]
DOI:
10.3109/03014460.2015.1136357
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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