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Social origins, early hardship and obesity: A strong association in women, but not in men?

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  • Khlat, Myriam
  • Jusot, Florence
  • Ville, Isabelle

Abstract

This study investigates the relation between early life conditions and adult obesity in France, using a rich data set collected through the 2003 nationally representative Life History Survey. No salient factor emerged in men, while in women, after controlling for current socio-demographic characteristics, a relation was found between obesity and the following factors: father's occupation (ORÂ =Â 3.2 for women whose father was a clerical worker, versus those whose father was in a higher-level occupation); experience of economic hardship in childhood (ORÂ =Â 2.0), and; high parity (ORÂ =Â 2.1 for parities of more than 3 versus parity of 1). Neither early family history nor mother's working status surfaced as significant factors. Those findings highlight a definite gender pattern, with a strong association between early disadvantage and obesity in women, but not in men. Potential mechanisms are discussed, particularly the "habitus", the "thrifty phenotype" and the "feast-famine" hypotheses, and possible interactions with childbearing and motherhood. An integration of social and biological perspectives is needed to reach a better understanding of the processes involved, and to achieve progress in primary and secondary prevention.

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  • Khlat, Myriam & Jusot, Florence & Ville, Isabelle, 2009. "Social origins, early hardship and obesity: A strong association in women, but not in men?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(9), pages 1692-1699, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:9:p:1692-1699
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    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/5065 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Elgar, Frank J. & Gariépy, Geneviève & Torsheim, Torbjørn & Currie, Candace, 2017. "Early-life income inequality and adolescent health and well-being," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 197-208.
    3. Kieron Barclay & Martin Kolk, 2015. "Birth Order and Mortality: A Population-Based Cohort Study," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(2), pages 613-639, April.
    4. Wells, Jonathan C.K. & Marphatia, Akanksha A. & Cole, Tim J. & McCoy, David, 2012. "Associations of economic and gender inequality with global obesity prevalence: Understanding the female excess," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 482-490.
    5. Gustafsson, Per E. & Hammarström, Anne, 2012. "Socioeconomic disadvantage in adolescent women and metabolic syndrome in mid-adulthood: An examination of pathways of embodiment in the Northern Swedish Cohort," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(10), pages 1630-1638.
    6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/9524 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Florence Jusot & Sandy Tubeuf & Alain Trannoy, 2010. "Effort or Circumstances: Does the Correlation Matter for Inequality of Opportunity in Health?," Working Papers DT33, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Jul 2010.
    8. Jennifer Montez & Mark Hayward, 2014. "Cumulative Childhood Adversity, Educational Attainment, and Active Life Expectancy Among U.S. Adults," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(2), pages 413-435, April.

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