Socioeconomic Status over the Life Course and Polygenic Risk for Obesity across Four Birth Cohorts in the U.S. Elderly Population

Hexuan Liu, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Guang Guo, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This study is to investigate how socioeconomic status (SES) and genetic factors interactively influence BMI in the U.S. elderly population. Using longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study, we examine the influence of SES at three critical life stages (i.e., childhood, young adulthood, and late adulthood) and changes in SES over the life course on the joint effect of a collection of obesity-related genetic polymorphisms identified by recent genome-wide association studies. We find consistent evidence that stable and high SES over the life course compensates for genetic risks of overweight or obesity in late adulthood. However, there is no evidence that SES at a particular life stage moderates the genetic risks. These findings suggest that instabilities in SES could have important implications for obesity. Our findings highlight the importance of combining life-course sociology and genomic research in studies of health disparities.

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Presented in Session 100: Biodemography of Aging