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Emerging Longitudinal Scholars: Socioeconomic influences on diet and health

Join us for the third webinar in our Emerging Longitudinal Scholars (ELS) series which will focus on socioeconomic influences on diet and health. Speakers include Yinhua Tao (University of Cambridge) and Jie Zhang (Aarhus University).

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 third webinar in our 2024 ELS webinar series will focus on socioeconomic influences on diet and health with talks from Yinhua Tao (University of Cambridge) and Jie Zhang (Aarhus University). 

Check out the presentation abstracts below for more information. 


Associations of early adulthood socioeconomic trajectories with adult diet quality
Yinhua Tao (University of Cambridge) 

There is well-established evidence of socioeconomic inequality in diet quality among adults. However, less clear is the time period during which the socioeconomic inequalities in diet develop. Life course research has found that low parental socioeconomic position (SEP) during childhood is associated with poor diet quality in adulthood, independent of adulthood SEP.

This study focuses on another key period of development: early adulthood (16-24 years). In this period, young people experience education and employment transitions, along with changes in diet-related physical and social environments. A window of opportunity may therefore open to narrow socioeconomic inequalities in diet established in early life and lasting into adulthood.

Using data from the 1970 British Birth Cohort (BCS70) (n=12,423), we are investigating 1) how different socioeconomic trajectories (SETs) across early adulthood are associated with diet quality in mid-adulthood (age 46y), independent of childhood SEP, and 2) the extent to which household and neighbourhood SEP in adulthood (age 46y) mediate the association between early adulthood SETs and adult diet quality.

Preliminary results from causal mediation analysis suggest that early adulthood SET characterised as ‘Continued Education’ was associated with higher diet quality scores (Mediterranean diet score) than the other five SETs.

This association was mediated by neighbourhood SEP, with people of the ‘Continued Education’ class more likely to live in less socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods, thereby improving their diet quality in adulthood. Household income, however, did not mediate the association of early adulthood SETs with adult diet quality. 


Exploring the Influence of Grandparental Socio-Economic Status on the Association Between Parental BMI and Offspring BMI Trajectories
Jie Zhang (Aarhus University) 

Background: Studies have demonstrated an intergenerational association of body mass index (BMI) in families but the role of socioeconomic position (SEP) across generations is unclear. We aimed to investigate the associations between parental BMI and offspring BMI trajectories and to explore whether the parent-offspring BMI growth trajectory association differed according to grandparental SEP or social mobility.  

Methods: We used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Children’s weight and height were collected from 1 to 18 years. Parents’ height and weight were reported pre-pregnancy. We assessed family SEP by measuring grandparents’ educational attainment, and social mobility by changes in education attainment between grandparents and parents. Multilevel models were used to develop trajectories and assess patterns of change in offspring BMI, to associate parental BMI with these trajectories, and explore whether these associations differed by grandparental SEP and social mobility.  

Results: 13,612 (6,966 male and 6,646 female) children were included in the analyses. The average BMI of offspring whose parents were overweight or obese was higher throughout childhood and adolescence, compared to those with parents of normal BMI. Grandparental low SEP was associated with higher child BMI, but there was little evidence of modification of parent-offspring associations, nor for social mobility. For example, the predicted mean BMI difference between children of overweight or obese mothers versus normal-weight mothers was 12.5% (95%CI: 10.1% to 14.7%) and 12.2% (95%CI: 10.3% to 13.7%) for children at age 15 with grandparents of high and low SEP, respectively.  

Conclusions: These findings strengthen the evidence that higher parental BMI and lower grandparental SEP were associated with higher offspring BMI from 1 to 18 years, but we did not observe strong evidence that grandparental SEP modifies the parental-offspring BMI association. 

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 (