Does body mass index mediate the relationship between socioeconomic position and incident osteoarthritis?

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Objectives: To investigate associations of socioeconomic position (SEP) and obesity with incident osteoarthritis (OA), and to examine whether body mass index (BMI) mediates the association between SEP and incident OA.
Methods: Data came from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a population-based cohort study of adults aged ≥50 years. The sample population included 9,281 people. Cox regression analyses were performed to investigate the associations between SEP (measured by education, occupation, income, wealth and deprivation) and obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) at baseline and self-reported incident OA. The mediating effect of BMI on the relationship between SEP and incident OA were estimated using Structural Equation Models.
Results: After a mean follow-up time of 7.8 years, 2,369 participants developed OA. Number of person-years included in the analysis was 65,456. Lower SEP was associated with higher rates of OA (for example, hazard ratio (HR) lowest vs highest education category 1.52 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.30, 1.79)). Obesity compared with non-obesity was associated with increased rates of incident OA (HR 1.37 (95% CI 1.23, 1.52)). BMI mediated the relationship between a lower SEP and OA (β=0.005, p<0.001) and the direct effect was not significant (β=0.004, p=0.212).
Conclusions: Strategies to reduce social inequalities and obesity prevalence may help to reduce OA risk.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number152063
JournalSeminars in arthritis and rheumatism
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022