Online Program

Influence of grandparent schooling on adult health status, smoking, and obesity

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 12:56 p.m. - 1:14 p.m.

Felice Le, MPH, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Yun Li, PhD, Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Hal Morgenstern, PhD, Departments of Epidemiology, Environmental Health Sciences, and Urology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Background: Despite persistent education-related health disparities in the U.S. across generations, little is known about multigenerational effects of schooling on adult health. As it becomes more common for grandparents and grandchildren to share lifespans, direct influences of grandparent schooling on grandchild health may become increasingly important. Methods: We used multigenerational data spanning 41 years on a national sample of U.S. families to investigate effects of grandparent educational attainment on global health status, smoking, and obesity in adults aged 25–55 years. We used marginal structural models to estimate direct effects of grandparent schooling unmediated by parent and participant schooling. Results: After accounting for parent and participant schooling, there were graded inverse associations among Whites between grandparent schooling and poor health status, smoking, and obesity. For example, prevalence ratios (PR) of obesity compared to all grandparents having less than a high school education were PR = 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.68–1.05) for a grandparent with a high school degree, PR = 0.81 (0.64–1.03) for some college education, and PR = 0.73 (0.56–0.94) for a college degree. Estimates among Blacks were similar to among Whites for smoking but minimal for health status and obesity (e.g., PR of obesity was 1.02 (0.74–1.39) for a grandparent with a college degree). Conclusion: Higher grandparent schooling may be beneficial for grandchildren's adult health through pathways unmediated by parent and grandchild schooling, but these benefits may be unequally distributed among racial groups. These differences may contribute to racial health disparities across generations.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe estimated effects of grandparent schooling on health in U.S. adults. Differentiate between total and direct effects of grandparent schooling. Discuss racial inequities in intergenerational benefits of grandparent schooling on health.

Keyword(s): Social Inequalities, Adult Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate in epidemiology and for my dissertation I am investigating links between schooling and health. Socioeconomic and racial health disparities are a focus of my research. I worked as a high school math teacher in Boston, MA, and then as a quality improvement analyst in a community behavioral health care center furthering my knowledge on education and related factors.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.