Men who are shorter in height and women who are obese are more likely to be socio-economically deprived with lower levels of education, occupation, and income, suggests new research.
“These data support evidence that height and BMI play an important partial role in determining several aspects of a person’s socio-economic status, especially women’s BMI (body mass index) for income and deprivation and men’s height for education, income, and job class,” said lead researcher Timothy Frayling, professor at University of Exeter in Britain.
The findings were reported in the journal BMJ.
The researchers tested whether genetic variants influencing height or BMI play a direct (causal) role in socio-economic status.
They analysed genetic variants with known effects on height and body mass index from 119,000 individuals aged between 40 and 70 in the Britain’s Biobank — a database of biological information from half a million British adults — using a technique called Mendelian randomisation.
Five measures of socio-economic status were assessed — age at the time of completing schooling, degree level education, job class, annual household income, and Townsend deprivation index (a recognised social deprivation score).
Analyses were repeated separately for men and women, the researchers maintained.
“These findings have important social and health implications, supporting evidence that overweight people, especially women, are at a disadvantage and that taller people, especially men, are at an advantage,” the researchers concluded.