Fat free mass and obesity in relation to educational level

Seppänen-Nuijten, Elina; Lahti-Koski, Marjaana; Männistö, Satu; Knekt, Paul; Rissanen, Harri; Aromaa, Arpo; Heliövaara, Markku
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p448
Academic Journal
Background: The aim of the study was to describe the body composition of Finnish adults, especially by education, and to investigate whether fat-free mass (FFM) can explain educational gradients relating to body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Methods: Data for this cross-sectional study were based on data collected in 2000-2001 for the Health 2000 Survey. Of the nationally representative sample of 8,028 Finnish men and women aged 30 years and older, 6,300 (78.5%) were included in the study. Body composition measurements were carried out in the health examination, where FFM was assessed with eight-polar bioelectrical impedance analysis. Questions on education were included in the health interview. Results: The mean FFM varied by education in older (≥ 65 y.) men only. In the middle-aged group (30-64 y.), highly educated men were less likely to belong to the lowest quintile of FFM (OR 0.67, 95%CI 0.48-0.93) compared with the least educated subjects. The level of education was inversely associated with the prevalence of high BMI and WHR in middle-aged men. In women, the respective associations were found both in middle-aged women and their older counterparts. Adjustment for FFM slightly strengthened the associations of education with BMI and WHR. Conclusions: The association between education and FFM is weak. Educational gradients of high BMI and high WHR cannot be explained by FFM.


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