Marko Elovainio * , Jane E. Ferrie , Archana Singh-Manoux , Martin Shipley , G. David Batty , Jenny Head , Mark Hamer , Markus Jokela , Marianna Virtanen , Eric Brunner , Michael G. Marmot , Mika Kivimäki
3 August 2011
In this study, the health-related selection hypothesis (that health predicts social mobility) and the social causation hypothesis (that socioeconomic status influences health) were tested in relation to cardiometabolic factors. The authors screened 8,312 United Kingdom men and women 3 times over 10 years between 1991 and 2004 for waist circumference, body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, serum lipids, C-reactive protein, and interleukin-6; identified participants with the metabolic syndrome; and measured childhood health retrospectively. Health-related selection was examined in 2 ways: 1) childhood health problems as predictors of adult occupational position and 2) adult cardiometabolic factors as predictors of subsequent promotion at work. Social causation was assessed using adult occupational position as a predictor of subsequent change in cardiometabolic factors. Hospitalization during childhood and lower birth weight were associated with lower occupational position (both P’s ≤ 0.002). Cardiometabolic factors in adulthood did not consistently predict promotion. In contrast, lower adult occupational position predicted adverse changes in several cardiometabolic factors (waist circumference, body mass index, fasting glucose, and fasting insulin) and an increased risk of new-onset metabolic syndrome (all P’s ≤ 0.008). These findings suggest that health-related selection operates at younger ages and that social causation contributes to socioeconomic differences in cardiometabolic health in midlife.