Life-Course Socioeconomic Status and Metabolic Syndrome Among Midlife Women

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2016 Nov;71(6):1097-1107. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw014. Epub 2016 Feb 28.


Objectives: We examine whether women's risks of having metabolic syndrome (MetS) at pre/early-menopausal baseline, and of developing MetS after baseline, are associated with childhood and adult socioeconomic statuses (SESs); and whether the associations are mediated by adult reproductive, economic, behavioral, and psychosocial factors.

Method: Using data on white and black women collected prospectively for 12 years in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation, we estimated odds of MetS at pre/early-menopausal baseline with logistic regression, and incidence of MetS after baseline with Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: Women raised in "adverse" childhood SES had marginally greater odds of MetS at baseline than did women raised in "good" SES, and women with a high school credential or less had significantly greater odds than college-educated women, in mutually adjusted models. The elevated odds partly reflected SES-related differences in exercise and alcohol consumption. Incidence after baseline was associated with education, not childhood SES, and partly mediated by health behaviors. Differences in the probability of surviving without MetS between the most and least socioeconomically advantaged women nearly doubled between ages 50 and 60.

Discussion: Childhood and adult SES predict women's risks of MetS as they approach the menopause transition; adult SES is primarily important afterwards.

Keywords: Childhood; Education; Health; Inequality.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Adverse Events / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Menopause
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Class*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Women's Health