Author: Gerontological Society of America (GSA) (i): Contact: geron.org
Table of contents and important points:
A study by the University of Michigan (UM) shows that excessive body mass, smoking, and manual labor explain a large part of the disparities in disability in the United States.
We know that smoking, obesity and manual labor are heavily influenced by educational attainment and that they in turn increase the risk of disability.
The UM study increased methodological accuracy by examining the incidence or transition from disability to disability.
Excess body mass, smoking, and manual labor explain a large part of the disparities in disability in the United States. This emerges from a new study by the University of Michigan (UM) (1) published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (2).
The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, is a peer-reviewed publication from the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) (3), the country’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization dedicated to research, education and practice on the field Area deals of aging. The main mission of society – and its 5,500+ members – is to advance the study of aging and to disseminate information among scientists, decision-makers and the public. The structure of the GSA also includes a political institute, the National Academy on a Aging Society (4).
While it is well documented that people with less education, and especially those without a high school diploma, are more likely to be disabled, less is known about the mechanisms behind this connection, say the UM researchers.
Smoking, obesity and manual labor
“We know that smoking, obesity and manual labor are highly educated and that they in turn increase the risk of disability,” said lead author Tarlise Townsend, who led the work as a PhD student at UM’s School of Public Health.
“So, at the US population level, we wanted to know how much of the educational differences in disability are explained by these three factors. We wanted to better understand how education gets under the skin to affect disability risk.”
Townsend and colleagues found that these three factors accounted for 60 percent of the educational differences in disability in younger women (65 years and younger), 65 to 70 percent in younger men, 40 percent in older women, and 20 to 60 percent in older men.
From 2003 to 2015, they tracked more than 3,000 people at risk of disability using data from the nationally representative panel study on income dynamics – the longest-running longitudinal household survey in the world – carried out at the UM Institute for Social Research.
To define disability, researchers used a standard set of survey indicators that asked about people’s ability to perform everyday activities such as bathing or showering, preparing meals, and doing heavy housework.
While previous research looked at the prevalence of disability, which provides an overview of who has a disability at a given point in time, the UM study increased methodological accuracy by looking at the incidence or transition from non-disability to disability.
“Then we said, ‘OK, what role do these three factors play in explaining the educational differences in disability? For example, if no one in the population had smoked, how much smaller would the disability gap be? If no one were overweight or obese, how much smaller would it be Disability gap in the population? ‘”Townsend said. “This allowed us to estimate how much of the disability gap in the US population is explained by these risk factors and how much of it needs to be explained by other mechanisms.”
The researchers found that smoking and manual labor were the main reasons for the different disabilities in men under 65. While in both younger and older women it was the main cause of overweight and obesity.
“If we are to reduce the disparity gap, we need to understand the mechanisms by which educational levels lead to disabilities,” Townsend said. “It is important to remember that changing these risk factors requires much more than will on an individual level.”
“These behaviors, as well as the type of work people do, are shaped by a number of powerful social forces. If we are to reduce disability disparity, we need to think about ways to both improve education and disconnect.” Education from these risk factors: job opportunities, obesity and smoking. “
For a long time, disability seemed to be falling in the American population, but that trend ended in the early 2000s, Townsend said. Now Americans are becoming disabled at a younger age, and educational disparities seem to be increasing.
“We don’t understand why disability has plateaued in the US and why the differences in disability by graduation are so great,” said co-author Neil Mehta, PhD, assistant professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health from UM. “Our study helps shed some light on understanding these troubling patterns.”
The journal article is titled, “Pathways to Educational Disparities in Disability Incidence: The Contributions of Excessive BMI, Smoking, and Manual Labor.”
1 – https://academic.oup.com/psychsocgerontology/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/geronb/gbaa085/5898931?redirectedFrom=fulltext
2 – https://academic.oup.com/psychsocgerontology
3 – https://www.geron.org/
4 – http://www.agingsociety.org/
(i) Source / Reference: The Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Disabled World makes no guarantees or warranties in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length.
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Journal: Disabled World. Language: English. Author: The Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Electronic publication date: 2020-09-01. Last revised date: 2020-09-01. Reference Title: “Obesity, Smoking, Physical Labor Can Explain Differences In Disabilities” Source: Obesity, Smoking, Physical Labor Can Explain Differences In Disabilities. Summary: The University of Michigan (UM) study shows that excessive body mass, smoking, and manual labor explain a large part of the disparities in disability in the United States. Retrieved on December 17, 2018 from https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/disability-disparities.php – reference category number: DW # 37-13869.
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