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Emerging Longitudinal Scholars: Healthy ageing

Join us for the second webinar in our Emerging Longitudinal Scholars (ELS) series which will focus on healthy ageing. Speakers include Edi Putra (University of Liverpool) and Alisha Suhag (University of Sheffield).

About the webinar series

Chaired by CLOSER Research Fellow, Dr Neil Kaye, our ELS webinar series provides a collaborative platform for fostering knowledge exchange and showcasing research by early career researchers using UK longitudinal population study data.  

We’ve curated a diverse programme of talks for this inaugural series. The range of topics covered will include: children’s development, healthy ageing, diet and health, employment and wellbeing in midlife, mental wellbeing, ethnicity and gender.   

Each showcase webinar will include two 20-minute presentations, with ample time dedicated to discussion and collaboration. 

About this webinar

The second webinar in our 2024 ELS webinar series will focus on healthy ageing with talks from Edi Putra (University of Liverpool) and Alisha Suhag (University of Sheffield).

Check out the presentation abstracts below for more information. 


Obesity, psychological factors, and risk of developing seven non-communicable diseases: evidence from longitudinal studies of UK and US older adults
Edi Putra (University of Liverpool) 

We examined the role of psychological factors in explaining the prospective associations between obesity and risk of developing seven non-communicable diseases (NCDs: hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and memory-related disease).

We used comparable longitudinal data of UK and US older adults from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) (baseline: Wave 4 – 2008/2009; n= 8,127) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (baseline: Waves 9 and 10 – 2008/2010; n=12,477), respectively.

An index of ‘psychological distress’ was developed separately in each study by combining some psychological factors (e.g., depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, loneliness) available in ELSA and HRS.

Longitudinal associations between obesity, psychological distress, and NCDs were examined using Cox-proportional hazard regression models. Mediation by psychological distress was assessed using causal mediation analysis. Sensitivity analyses included fitting the cumulative number of NCDs as the outcome (minimum=0; maximum=7) and examining the mediating role of individual psychological factors. We found that obesity (vs. normal weight) was consistently associated with an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis across studies.

In ELSA and HRS, greater psychological distress was associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and memory-related disease. The index of psychological distress and individual psychological measures did not mediate the associations between obesity and NCDs in both studies, including when the number of NCDs was examined.

Our findings indicated that obesity and psychological factors may be independently associated with future NCDs; and no evidence of the associations between obesity and NCDs were explained by psychological factors. 


Longitudinal Clustering of Health Behaviours and Their Association with Multimorbidity in Older Adults in England: A Latent Class Analysis
Alisha Suhag (University of Sheffield) 

Smoking, unhealthy nutrition, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity (termed SNAP behaviours) are leading risk factors for multimorbidity and tend to cluster (i.e. occur in specific combinations within distinct subpopulations). However, little is known about how these clusters change with age in older adults, and whether and how cluster membership is associated with multimorbidity.

Repeated measures latent class analysis using data from Waves 4-8 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (n=4759) identified clusters of respondents with common patterns of SNAP behaviours over time. Disease status (from Wave 9) assessed disorders of eight body systems, multimorbidity, and complex multimorbidity.

Logistic regressions were used to examine how clusters were associated with socio-demographic characteristics and disease status. Seven clusters were identified: Low-risk (13.4%), Low-risk yet inactive (16.8%), Low-risk yet heavy drinkers (11.4%), Abstainer yet inactive (20%), Poor diet and inactive (12.9%), Inactive, heavy drinkers (14.5%), and High-risk smokers (10.9%).

There was little evidence these clusters changed with age. Clusters characterised by physical inactivity (in combination with other risky behaviours) had lower levels of education and wealth. The heavy drinking clusters were predominantly male. Compared to other clusters, Low-risk and Low-risk yet heavy drinkers had a lower prevalence of all health conditions studied. In contrast, the Abstainer but inactive cluster comprised mostly women and had the highest prevalence of multimorbidity, complex multimorbidity, and endocrine disorders. High-risk smokers were most likely to have respiratory disorders.

Intervention developers could use this information to identify high-risk subpopulations and tailor interventions to their behaviour patterns and socio-demographic profiles. 

Accessing the webinar

This webinar will be delivered via MS Teams. Instructions for how to access the session will be sent to all registered attendees prior to the session. Please book your place via the webinar Eventbrite to ensure you receive the joining details. 

The session will be recorded and videos posted after the event has ended. 

Other webinars in this series

Registration is open for all upcoming sessions in our 2024 ELS webinar series:

Further information

If you have any questions, or require further information, please contact CLOSER Digital Communications and Events Manager, Jennie Blows (