Social class and BMI linked in long term

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Socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood or as an adult is associated with higher body mass index (BMI) that persists with age and over different generations, longitudinal data from three national British birth cohorts of people born in 1946, 1958, and 1970 have shown.1

Previous studies have found that people with lower socioeconomic resources, both as children and adults, are more likely to have a higher BMI and increased risk of obesity in adulthood. The links between higher BMI and poorer health have prompted efforts to reduce inequalities in socioeconomic position and BMI to improve health, but data on how these factors change over time are limited.

Researchers analysed three national birth cohorts of people born in 1946, 1958, and 1970, which included comparable data on their social class in childhood and adulthood and their BMI throughout life. They studied a total of 22 810 participants with 77 115 BMI recordings and their socioeconomic position, looking at the father’s occupational social class when each child was aged 10-11 and at their own occupational social class at the age of 42-43.

The results, reported in PLoS Medicine, showed that inequalities in chil...