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Using a new socioepidemiological questionnaire to analyse associations between intergenerational upward social mobility and body fat distribution: a pilot study with the Oxford BioBank cohort
  1. K Eli1,2,
  2. F Karpe3,4,
  3. S Ulijaszek1
  1. 1Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  3. 3Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), OUHFT, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to K Eli, Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; karin.eli{at}anthro.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

Background As measured through body mass index (BMI), obesity is more prevalent among upwardly mobile adults than among adults born into middle-class families. Although BMI reflects general adiposity, health risks are more strongly associated with abdominal adiposity. It is therefore important to investigate associations between upward mobility and fat distribution.

Methods A socioepidemiological questionnaire was developed, qualitatively validated and piloted with Oxford BioBank participants. Sex-specific analyses of variance (ANOVA) investigated associations between participant occupational class and adiposity, paternal occupational class and adiposity, and upward occupational mobility and adiposity. The main aim was to observe whether the expected directional effect of adiposity in relation to paternal occupational class would emerge.

Results 280 participants (166 women, 114 men; age 32–67 years) completed the questionnaire. Men with fathers of occupational class 2 or 3 had higher mean BMI, total body fat percentage, android fat mass and android-to-gynoid fat mass ratio than men with fathers of occupational class 1. Women with fathers of occupational class 2 or 3 had higher mean BMI, total body fat percentage, android fat mass and gynoid fat mass than women with fathers of occupational class 1. Among men, upward mobility was not associated with adiposity. Among women, upward mobility was associated with higher total body fat percentage, android fat mass and gynoid fat mass.

Conclusion The expected directional effect was found, thereby supporting the questionnaire’s use. Upward mobility did not appear to change associations between paternal occupational class and participant adiposity. Future research using the socioepidemiological questionnaire should investigate associations between gender, educational mobility, adiposity and health.

  • Obesity
  • social class
  • inequalities
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Footnotes

  • Contributors All authors made substantial contributions to the study’s design and to the analysis and interpretation of data. KE drafted the manuscript, and FK and SU made substantial contributions to the critical revision of the manuscript. All authors have approved the final version of the manuscript. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding This research was funded by the John Fell OUP Research Fund (151/035), the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF 204826/Z/16/Z), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), and the British Heart Foundation (RG/17/1/32663).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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