Childhood conditions and current physical performance among non-institutionalized individuals aged 50+ in Israel

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Adverse socioeconomic conditions in childhood have been previously linked with high risk of various health conditions. However, the association with future physical function has been less studied. Hand grip strength and chair-rising time are objective measures of physical capability indicating current and future health outcomes. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that perceived socio-economic status in childhood is related to current measures of physical function, among Israeli participants of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe project. The study included 2300 participants aged 50 years or older (mean age 68 ± 10; 56 % women). Generalized linear regression models were used to examine the associations of childhood wealth and number of books in residence with grip strength and time to complete five rises from a chair. Logistic regression models were used to assess the relationships between the early life conditions and the ability to perform the physical tests. Adjustment was made for current income or household wealth, and for demographic, anthropometric, health, and life-style measures. Being wealthy and having a large number of books at home in childhood was associated with a stronger hand grip and a better chair-rise test performance. These associations were more robust in women compared to men, and persisted after adjustment for potential covariates. In addition, childhood wealth and number of books were associated with lower risk of being unable to perform the tests. Thus, early-life programming may contribute to physical function indicators in mid- and late-life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-347
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Body stature
  • Chair stand test
  • Frailty
  • Hand grip strength
  • Socio-economic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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