Open Access Open Badges Research article

Gender and socioeconomic disparities in BMI trajectories in the Seychelles: a cohort analysis based on serial population-based surveys

Isabelle A Rossi1, Valentin Rousson1, Bharathi Viswanathan2 and Pascal Bovet12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland

2 NCD Section, Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Victoria, Republic of Seychelles

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:912  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-912

Published: 9 December 2011



The relationship between body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic status (SES) tends to change over time and across populations. In this study, we examined, separately in men and women, whether the association between BMI and SES changed over successive birth cohorts in the Seychelles (Indian Ocean, African region).


We used data from all participants in three surveys conducted in 1989, 1994 and 2004 in independent random samples of the population aged 25-64 years in the Seychelles (N = 3'403). We used linear regression to model mean BMI according to age, cohort, SES and smoking status, allowing for a quadratic term for age to account for a curvilinear relation between BMI and age and interactions between SES and age and between SES and cohorts to test whether the relation between SES and BMI changed across subsequent cohorts. All analyses were performed separately in men and women.


BMI increased with age in all birth cohorts. BMI was lower in men of low SES than high SES but was higher in women of low SES than high SES. In all SES categories, BMI increased over successive cohorts (1.24 kg/m2 in men and 1.51 kg/m2 for a 10-year increase in birth cohorts, p < 0.001). The difference in BMI between men or women of high vs. low SES did not change significantly across successive cohorts (the interaction between SES and year of birth of cohort was statistically not significant). Smoking was associated with lower BMI in men and women (respectively -1.55 kg/m2 and 2.46 kg/m2, p < 0.001).


Although large differences exist between men and women, social patterning of BMI did not change significantly over successive cohorts in this population of a middle-income country in the African region.