The Influence of Access: Longitudinal BMI Change and Socioeconomic Status in the Health and Retirement Study, 1992-2006
Nicholas J. Bishop, Arizona State University
This research employs latent growth curve modeling to estimate body mass index (BMI) trajectories using data from the Health and Retirement Study, 1992-2006. Focusing upon socioeconomic variables which indicate access to and acquisition of health-enabling resources, we seek to determine whether differentials in later-life baseline BMI and longitudinal BMI change are influenced by socioeconomic position. Results indicate that at baseline measurement, men have greater BMI scores than women, but over the 14-year measurement interval, female BMI surpasses male BMI. Black females are disproportionately affected by BMI, having initial BMI scores 2.2 units higher than non-black females. Females in less prestigious jobs are found to have greater BMI increases over the 14 years of measurement than those in more prestigious jobs. Our results indicate that BMI outcomes in later life are influenced by practices of discrimination based on gender and race.