Height, body mass index, and socioeconomic status: mendelian randomisation study in UK Biobank
BMJ Publishing Group
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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether height and body mass index (BMI) have a causal role in five measures of socioeconomic status. DESIGN: Mendelian randomisation study to test for causal effects of differences in stature and BMI on five measures of socioeconomic status. Mendelian randomisation exploits the fact that genotypes are randomly assigned at conception and thus not confounded by non-genetic factors. SETTING: UK Biobank. PARTICIPANTS: 119 669 men and women of British ancestry, aged between 37 and 73 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Age completed full time education, degree level education, job class, annual household income, and Townsend deprivation index. RESULTS: In the UK Biobank study, shorter stature and higher BMI were observationally associated with several measures of lower socioeconomic status. The associations between shorter stature and lower socioeconomic status tended to be stronger in men, and the associations between higher BMI and lower socioeconomic status tended to be stronger in women. For example, a 1 standard deviation (SD) higher BMI was associated with a £210 (€276; $300; 95% confidence interval £84 to £420; P=6×10(-3)) lower annual household income in men and a £1890 (£1680 to £2100; P=6×10(-15)) lower annual household income in women. Genetic analysis provided evidence that these associations were partly causal. A genetically determined 1 SD (6.3 cm) taller stature caused a 0.06 (0.02 to 0.09) year older age of completing full time education (P=0.01), a 1.12 (1.07 to 1.18) times higher odds of working in a skilled profession (P=6×10(-7)), and a £1130 (£680 to £1580) higher annual household income (P=4×10(-8)). Associations were stronger in men. A genetically determined 1 SD higher BMI (4.6 kg/m(2)) caused a £2940 (£1680 to £4200; P=1×10(-5)) lower annual household income and a 0.10 (0.04 to 0.16) SD (P=0.001) higher level of deprivation in women only. CONCLUSIONS: These data support evidence that height and BMI play an important partial role in determining several aspects of a person's socioeconomic status, especially women's BMI for income and deprivation and men's height for education, income, and job class. 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.
JT is funded by a Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation fellowship. SEJ is funded by the Medical Research Council (grant: MR/M005070/1). MAT, MNW, and AM are supported by a Wellcome Trust institutional strategic support award (WT097835MF). ARW and TMF are supported by a European Research Council grant (SZ-245 50371-GLUCOSEGENES-FP7-IDEAS-ERC). RMF is a Sir Henry Dale fellow (Wellcome Trust and Royal Society grant 104150/Z/14/Z). RB is funded by a Wellcome Trust and Royal Society grant (104150/Z/14/Z). HY is funded by a European Research Council award (323195). JNH is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 DK075787). CMA is funded by the Endocrine Society’s Endocrine Scholars Award (supported by Lilly USA, LLC). The funders had no influence on study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from BMJ Publishing Group via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 352, article i582
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