Life course models of socioeconomic position and cardiovascular risk factors: 1946 birth cohort

Ann Epidemiol. 2011 Aug;21(8):589-97. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.04.005.


Purpose: To identify the life course model that best describes the association between life course socioeconomic position (SEP) and cardiovascular (CVD) risk factors (ie, body mass index [BMI], systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and glycated hemoglobin) and explore BMI across the life course as mediators of the relationship.

Methods: The Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development was used to compare partial F-tests of simpler nested life course SEP models corresponding to critical period, accumulation, and social mobility models with a saturated model. Then, the chosen life course model for each CVD risk factor was adjusted for BMI at age 53 and lifetime BMI (ages 4, 26, 43, and 53 years).

Results: Among women, SEP was generally associated with CVD risk factors in a cumulative manner, whereas childhood critical period was the prominent model for men. When the best-fitting SEP models were used, we found that adjustment for BMI at age 53 reduced associations for all outcomes in both genders. Further adjustment for lifetime BMI (4, 26, 43, and 53 years) did not substantially alter most associations (except for triglycerides).

Conclusions: SEP at different points across life influences CVD risk factors differently in men and women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / economics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Cholesterol