Life course pathways to adult-onset diabetes

Latrica E Best, Mark D Hayward, Mira M Hidajat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Early life conditions, such as socioeconomic status (SES) and health, have the potential to set in motion multiple and reinforcing pathways that shape both the prevalence and onset of diabetes among older adults. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (1998-2002) for persons age 51 years and older, we investigated the core mediating mechanisms linking early life conditions with diabetes prevalence in 1998 and onset over a 4-year follow-up period, focusing on adult achievement processes and obesity as key mechanisms. We found that father's education is negatively associated with diabetes prevalence for older men and women. However, no markers of early life SES are directly associated with older men's and women's onset of diabetes, and the negative effects of adult SES on diabetes onset pertain only to women. Early life health affects the onset of diabetes among women--but not the prevalence--and no evidence of this association was found for men. We found no evidence that obesity is an important mechanism connecting either early life or adult SES with diabetes development in men or women. We speculate that early life SES may accelerate the development of diabetes at younger ages, and that the pathways linking life course SES, early life health, and diabetes are partly gender-specific and biological in nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-111
Number of pages18
JournalSocial biology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2007


  • Aged
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity
  • Poverty
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • United States
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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