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Lifelong socioeconomic position and physical performance in midlife: Results from the British 1946 birth cohort

Strand, BH and Cooper, R and Hardy, R and Kuh, D and Guralnik, J (2011) Lifelong socioeconomic position and physical performance in midlife: Results from the British 1946 birth cohort. European Journal of Epidemiology, 26 (6). pp. 475-483. ISSN 0393-2990

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Abstract

Socioeconomic position (SEP) across life is found to be related to adult physical performance, but the underlying pathways are not well characterized. Using a British birth cohort (N = 2956), the associations of SEP from childhood into midlife with objective physical performance measures in midlife were examined, adjusting for possible confounders or mediators, including indicators of muscle development and central nervous system function. Childhood and adulthood SEP were positively related to standing balance and chair rise performance, but not to grip strength after basic adjustments. When both father’s occupation and mother’s education were included in the same model, having a mother with low education was associated with 0.6 standard deviations (SD) (95% confidence interval (CI: 0.3, 0.8)) poorer standing balance time compared with having a mother with the highest educational level, and having a father in the lowest occupational group was associated with a 0.3 SD (95% CI: 0.1, 0.6) lower chair rise score compared with having a father in the highest occupational group. These associations were maintained, albeit attenuated, after adjustment. In contrast, the associations of own education and adult occupation with physical performance were generally not maintained after adjustment. SEP across life impacts on midlife physical performance, and thereby the ageing process.

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