Childhood socioeconomic status and weight change in later life

TitleChildhood socioeconomic status and weight change in later life
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsHua, CL
Academic DepartmentGerontology
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages122
Date Published2019
UniversityMiami University
CityMiami, United States
KeywordsAllostatic load, childhood adversities, neighborhood social cohesion, Physical activity

Although previous studies find a relationship between childhood socioeconomic adversities and weight change, few examine mediators or moderators of this relationship using a nationally representative older adult sample. Using a life course framework, this study examines causal pathways and whether these pathways are modifiable. Using data from the 2006-2012 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (n=8193), a nationally representative survey of adults aged 50 and over in the United States, this research utilizes a structural equation modeling approach to examine whether physical activity and allostatic load mediate the relationship between childhood SES adversities and weight change. This research also examines the potential role of neighborhood social cohesion, or the mutual trust and solidarity among neighbors. Utilizing multiple-group analysis, this study also examines sex differences in the hypothesized relationships. The results indicate that childhood SES adversities are not directly related to later life weight change. Childhood SES adversities are related to lower levels of neighborhood social cohesion in later life. Low neighborhood social cohesion is related to lower levels of physical activity; it is also indirectly related to allostatic load through reduced levels of physical activity. There appear to be no sex differences in the hypothesized relationships. These findings indicate that the differential assortment into neighborhoods by socioeconomic status is important to consider when examining the role of neighborhood social cohesion and health

Citation Key10234