Socioeconomic differences in metabolic syndrome development among males and females, and the mediating role of health literacy and self-management skills

Hidde K Krijnen, Liza A Hoveling*, Aart C Liefbroer, Ute Bültmann, Nynke Smidt

*Corresponding author for this work

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BACKGROUND: Our aim was to investigate sex differences in the associations between socioeconomic position (SEP) and metabolic syndrome (MetS) development, and to what extent these associations are mediated by health literacy and self-management skills.

METHODS: A subsample (n = 88,384, 59.5% female) of the adult Lifelines Cohort Study was used. MetS development according to NCEP-ATPIII criteria was assessed on average 3.8 years after baseline. SEP-MetS associations were assessed for moderation by sex, and sex-stratified accordingly. Associations between SEP measures (education, income and occupational prestige), health literacy and self-management skills, and MetS development were investigated using logistic regression analyses. The mediating effects of health literacy and self-management skills on the SEP-MetS associations were investigated using the Karlson-Holm-Breen method.

RESULTS: Among males and females, respectively 9.4% and 7.1% developed MetS. For males, education was inversely associated with MetS development; health literacy (7.1%) and self-management skills (1.9%) mediated a proportion of these educational differences. For females, education, income and occupational prestige were inversely associated with MetS development; health literacy (respectively 5.9% and 6.4%) and self-management skills (respectively 4.1% and 3.7%) mediated a proportion of the educational and occupational differences in MetS development. Neither health literacy nor self-management skills mediated female income differences in MetS development.

CONCLUSIONS: Socioeconomic differences in MetS development differ between males and females. Both for males and females, health literacy and self-management skills mediated a small proportion of socioeconomic differences in MetS development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107140
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
Early online date5-Jul-2022
Publication statusPublished - 13-Jul-2022

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