Modeling the association between lifecourse socioeconomic disadvantage and systemic inflammation in healthy adults: The role of self-control

Camelia E. Hostinar, Kharah M. Ross, Edith Chen, Gregory E. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We sought to identify pathways connecting lifecourse socioeconomic status (SES) with chronic, low-grade inflammation, focusing on the explanatory roles of self-control, abdominal adiposity, and health practices. Methods: Participants were 360 adults aged 15-55 who were free of chronic medical conditions. They were roughly equally divided between low and high current SES, with each group further divided between low and high early-life SES. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to identify direct and indirect pathways linking early-life and current SES with low-grade, chronic inflammation in adulthood, as manifest by serum interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein. Low SES was hypothesized to relate to inflammation by reducing self-control, which in turn was hypothesized to facilitate lifestyle factors that potentiate inflammation (smoking, alcohol use, sedentary behavior, and weight gain). Results: Analyses revealed that self-control was pivotal in linking both early-life and current SES to inflammation. Low early-life SES was related to a harsher family climate, and in turn lower adult self-control, over and above the effects of current SES. Controlling for early-life SES, low current SES was associated with perceived stress and, in turn, diminished self-control. Results showed that lower self-control primarily operated through higher abdominal adiposity to associate with greater inflammation. Conclusions: The findings suggest a mechanistic scenario wherein low SES in early life or adulthood depletes self-control and, in turn, fosters adiposity and inflammation. These pathways should be studied longitudinally to elucidate and potentially ameliorate socioeconomic disparities in health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-590
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun. 2015


  • Adiposity
  • Childhood family
  • Inflammation
  • Self-control
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Stress


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