The aims of the study are twofold: (i) to explore the impact of socioeconomic position, as measured 13 years earlier, on cognitive functioning and mobility impairment in later life, and (ii) to explore the extent to which obesity and smoking status can explain socioeconomic inequalities in cognitive and mobility impairments in later life.
Data from a nationally representative sample of Swedish adults aged 56-76 in 1991 who were re-interviewed 13 years later in 2004, was analysed to explore the impact of socioeconomic position, smoking, and obesity on cognitive and physical functioning in late life.
The results showed that both smoking and obesity in late mid-life were stratified by socioeconomic position. Moreover, the results showed significant associations between socioeconomic position and both cognitive and physical functioning in later life. However, these inequalities in late life function could only partially be explained by the socioeconomic differences in smoking and obesity.
The findings of this study suggest that socioeconomic differences in the rates of smoking and obesity may explain some, but not all, of the socioeconomic inequalities in physical and cognitive functioning during old age.