Building upon evidence linking socio-economic position (SEP) in childhood and adulthood with health-related behaviours (HRB) in adulthood, we examined how pre-adolescent SEP predicted membership of three HRB clusters: “Risky”, “Moderate Smokers” and “Mainstream” (the latter pattern consisting of more beneficial HRBs), that were detected in our previous work. Data were taken from two British cohorts (born in 1958 and 1970) in pre-adolescence (age 11 and 10, respectively) and adulthood (age 33 and 34). SEP constructs in pre-adolescence and adulthood were derived through Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Conceptualised paths from pre-adolescent SEP to HRB cluster membership via adult SEP in our path models were tested for statistical significance separately by gender and cohort. Adult SEP mediated the path between pre-adolescent SEP and adult HRB clusters. More disadvantaged SEP in pre-adolescence predicted more disadvantaged SEP in adulthood which was associated with membership of the “Risky” and “Moderate Smokers” clusters compared to the “Mainstream” cluster. For example, large positive indirect effects between pre-adolescent SEP and adult HRB via adult SEP were present (coefficient 1958 Women = 0.39; 1970 Women = 0.36, 1958 Men = 0.51; 1970 Men = 0.39; p < 0.01) when comparing “Risky” and “Mainstream” cluster membership. Amongst men we found a small significant direct association (p < 0.001) between pre-adolescent SEP and HRB cluster membership. Our findings suggest that associations between adult SEP and HRBs are not likely to be pre-determined by earlier social circumstances, providing optimism for interventions relevant to reducing social gradients in HRBs. Observing consistent findings across the cohorts implies the social patterning of adult lifestyles may persist across time.
Mawditt, C., Sacker, A., Britton, A., Kelly, Y., & Cable, N. (2018). Social influences on health-related behaviour clustering during adulthood in two British birth cohort studies. Preventive Medicine, 110, 67–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.02.007