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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 625168, 7 pages
Clinical Study

Role of Socioeconomic Indicators on Development of Obesity from a Life Course Perspective

1Department of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention, National Institute for Health and Welfare, 00300 Helsinki, Finland
2MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
3Heart Research Center, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR 97239, USA
4Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, P. O. Box 20, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
5Unit of General Practice, Helsinki University Central Hospital, P. O. Box 705, 00029 HUS, Finland

Received 22 December 2008; Accepted 16 March 2009

Academic Editor: Ike S. Okosun

Copyright © 2009 Minna K. Salonen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aims. Development of obesity is modified by several factors, including socioeconomic ones. We studied the importance of socioeconomic indicators on the development of obesity from a life course perspective. Methods. 2003 people born 1934–1944 in Helsinki, Finland, participated in clinical examinations in 2001–2004. Obesity was defined as body mass index (BMI) 30  . Results. Prevalence of obesity was 22.3% in men and 27.2% in women. Lower educational attainment and lower adult social class were associated with higher BMI in both men ( and ) and women ( and ). Childhood social class was inversely associated with BMI only in men ( ); lower household income was associated with higher BMI in women only ( ). Those men belonging to the lowest childhood social class had higher risk of being obese than those of the highest childhood social class (OR 1.8 (95% CI: 1.0–3.1)). Household income was the strongest predictor of obesity among women. Conclusion. Overweight and obesity are inversely associated with socioeconomic status. Men seem to be more susceptible to adverse childhood socioeconomic circumstances than women, while adult socioeconomic indicators were more strongly associated with obesity in women.