Life-Course Origins of Social Inequalities in Metabolic Risk in the Population of a Developing Country

Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
American journal of epidemiology (Impact Factor: 5.23). 02/2008; 167(4):419-28. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwm329
Source: PubMed


In countries that have been industrialized for a long time, but not always elsewhere, low socioeconomic position (SEP) is associated with ischemic heart disease in men. The authors hypothesized that socioeconomic development could, via pubertal sex steroids, promote an atherogenic lipid profile and body shape in men but not in women. Therefore, they examined the associations of SEP with ischemic heart disease risk in a developing-country population. The authors used multivariable regression to examine the associations of SEP with the metabolic syndrome and its components in 9,746 Chinese adults aged >/=50 years from the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study, phase 2, recruited in 2005-2006. After adjustment for age, smoking, alcohol use, and physical activity, high SEP at each of three life stages, proxied by parental possesions in childhood, education, and longest held-occupation, was inversely associated with the metabolic syndrome in women but not in men. Higher SEP in men was associated with lower pulse pressure and fasting plasma glucose level but also with greater waist circumference and a lower high density lipoprotein cholesterol level. With socioeconomic development, diet-related hormonal changes at puberty may outweigh the usual protective effect of social advantage in men, with corresponding implications for boys currently undergoing the nutrition transition in the developing world.

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    • "Our data on hypertension prevalence were consistent with the findings of previous studies, which found that, as SES declined, hypertension was more prevalent among women than among men.4,21–25 The reason for this discrepancy between sexes might be the greater concurrent risks of metabolic disease and psychosocial stress (such as hostility, depression, and social isolation) for women of low SES as compared with men of low SES.4,26–28 "
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    ABSTRACT: Background We investigated socioeconomic inequalities in hypertension prevalence, treatment, and control among middle-aged Koreans. Methods We analyzed data from 4275 adults aged between 40 and 64 years who participated in the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007 and 2008. Education, income, and occupational level were evaluated to assess the relationship of socioeconomic status with hypertension prevalence, treatment, and control. Results There were significant differences in socioeconomic status among individuals with no hypertension, controlled hypertension, and uncontrolled hypertension in both sexes. In multiple logistic regression models, as compared with men who had more than 12 years of education, those with 7 to 12 years and less than 7 years of education had odds ratios (ORs) for untreated hypertension of 2.14 (95% CI: 1.18 to 3.90) and 2.98 (95% CI: 1.42 to 6.28), respectively (P for trend <0.05). As compared with women who had more than 12 years of education, those with 7 to 12 years and less than 7 years of education had ORs for hypertension prevalence of 1.75 (95% CI: 1.10 to 2.78) and 1.88 (95% CI: 1.12 to 3.16), respectively (P for trend <0.05). Women who worked as manual labors had an OR for uncontrolled hypertension of 1.50 (95% CI: 1.02 to 2.22) as compared with women in other jobs. There was no statistically significant association between income level and hypertension control. Conclusions Socioeconomic status was independently associated with hypertension prevalence and care, which suggests a need for health policy efforts to reduce the socioeconomic disparity in hypertension management.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Journal of Epidemiology
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    • "Developmental trade-offs between growth, maintenance, and reproduction may occur when there are competing demands for energy resources between biological systems [13,15,16], potentially at the expense of immune function in resource-poor environments. Alternatively, intergenerationally and environmentally driven up-regulation of the gonadotropic axis with economic development may obscure some of the normally protective effects of social advantage in the first few generations of men to experience better living conditions [17,18], thus generating epidemiologically stage specific associations between SEP and immune-related functions, such as pro-inflammatory states, among men [18,19]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Socioeconomic position (SEP) throughout life is associated with cardiovascular disease, though the mechanisms linking these two are unclear. It is also unclear whether there are critical periods in the life course when exposure to better socioeconomic conditions confers advantages or whether SEP exposures accumulate across the whole life course. Inflammation may be a mechanism linking socioeconomic position (SEP) with cardiovascular disease. In a large sample of older residents of Guangzhou, in southern China, we examined the association of life course SEP with inflammation. In baseline data on 9,981 adults (≥ 50 years old) from the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study (2006-08), we used multivariable linear regression and model fit to assess the associations of life course SEP at four stages (childhood, early adult, late adult and current) with white blood, granulocyte and lymphocyte cell counts. A model including SEP at all four life stages best explained the association of life course SEP with white blood and granulocyte cell count for men and women, with early adult SEP (education) making the largest contribution. A critical period model best explained the association of life course SEP with lymphocyte count, with sex-specific associations. Early adult SEP was negatively associated with lymphocytes for women. Low SEP throughout life may negatively impact late adult immune-inflammatory status. However, some aspects of immune-inflammatory status may be sensitive to earlier exposures, with sex-specific associations. The findings were compatible with the hypothesis that in a developing population, upregulation of the gonadotropic axis with economic development may obscure the normally protective effects of social advantage for men.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · BMC Public Health
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    • "However, previous findings, including our own study, suggest that the impact of childhood/adolescent socioeconomic status (SES) on women's adult risk for MetS remains and is only moderately attenuated by adjustment for adulthood SES (Gustafsson et al., 2011; Langenberg et al., 2006; Schooling et al., 2008), adult health behaviors (e.g. alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, diet) (Chichlowska et al., 2009; Gustafsson et al., 2011; Schooling et al., 2008), and for body mass and blood pressure in adolescence and early adulthood (Gustafsson et al., 2011). Although evidence is scarce, available findings tentatively suggest that neither hypothesis constitutes a dominant pathway of this example of embodiment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Research indicates that disadvantaged socioeconomic status in childhood or adolescence increases specifically women's risk for developing metabolic syndrome in adulthood. Construing this observation as an expression of embodiment, the present study aims at examining the 'social chain of risk' and the 'reproduction' hypotheses as pathways of this embodiment. Participants were all women in the Northern Swedish Cohort, a 27-year prospective Swedish cohort, with data collection in 1981 at age 16 years (n = 1083, 506 women), and follow-up at age 21, 30 and 43 (n = 482 women) years. The analytical sample was n = 399 women (79% of the original cohort). Socioeconomic disadvantage was defined as parental manual occupation at age 16, and metabolic syndrome according to standardized criteria at age 43. The social chain of risk was operationalized as accumulated social and material adversities at age 16, 21, 30 and 43 years, and reproductive factors by age at menarche, early childbearing (before age 22), and number of children at age 43. In logistic regression with metabolic syndrome as the outcome, the OR for adolescent socioeconomic status was rendered non-significant and reduced by 21.6% after adjustment for cumulative adversity over the life course. Of the reproductive factors, only age at menarche lead to an OR reduction at all (by 4.1%). Our study suggests that women's embodiment of socioeconomic disadvantage during upbringing is partly explained by adversity over the subsequent life course. Future studies should incorporate the living conditions of women over the life course as a possible pathway whereby early life socioeconomic conditions are embodied.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Social Science [?] Medicine
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