Relation of childhood socioeconomic status and family environment to adult metabolic functioning in the CARDIA study

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; African Continental Ancestry Group; Child; Child Abuse; Comorbidity; Coronary Disease; European Continental Ancestry Group; Family; *Family Health; Female; Health Status; Humans; Male; Metabolic Syndrome X; Middle Aged; Prevalence; Risk Factors; Sex Factors; Social Adjustment; *Social Class; *Social Environment; Social Support; Urban Population


Bioinformatics | Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


OBJECTIVE: Low SES and a conflict-ridden, neglectful, or harsh family environment in childhood have been linked to a high rate of physical health disorders in adulthood. The objective of the present investigation was to evaluate a model of the pathways that may help to explain these links and to relate them to metabolic functioning (MF) in the Coronary Artery Risk Development In Young Adults (CARDIA) dataset.

METHODS: Participants (n = 3225) in the year 15 assessment of CARDIA, age 33 to 45 years, completed measures of childhood socioeconomic status (SES), risky early family environment (RF), adult psychosocial functioning (PsyF, a latent factor measured by depression, hostility, positive and negative social contacts), and adult SES. Indicators of the latent factor MF were assessed, specifically, cholesterol, insulin, glucose, triglycerides, and waist circumference.

RESULTS: The overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 9.7%. Structural equation modeling indicated that childhood SES and RF are associated with MF via their association with PsyF (standardized path coefficients: childhood SES to RF -0.13, RF to PsyF 0.44, PsyF to MF 0.09, all p < .05), but also directly (coefficient from childhood SES to MF -0.12, p < .05), with good overall model fit. When this model was tested separately for race-sex subgroups, it fit best for white women, fit well for African-American women and white men, but did not fit well for African-American men.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that childhood SES and early family environment contribute to metabolic functioning through pathways of depression, hostility, and poor quality of social contacts.

DOI of Published Version



Psychosom Med. 2005 Nov-Dec;67(6):846-54. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychosomatic medicine

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed