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Childhood cognitive skills and later life presence of chronic diseases: a life-course approach

Calabrese, Paolo (2021) Childhood cognitive skills and later life presence of chronic diseases: a life-course approach. Bachelor thesis.


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Each year, approximately 35 million people die worldwide because of chronic diseases; it is the largest cause of deaths globally, and the term "chronic disease" encompasses many different illnesses: asthma, cardiovascular diseases, strokes, Alzheimer and dementia, cancer and many other conditions. As people grow older, the risk of being subject to one of these diseases increases, with the elderly being more at risk of developing chronic diseases. The focus on healthy ageing has increased over the years to tackle down the onset of those diseases. Furthermore, the so-called "Life-course approach" started to be applied to the life course to investigate how early life experiences transform future events, in this case, disease incidence. In this thesis, the life course approach is implemented alongside statistical regressions to determine whether higher cognitive skills are associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases. Furthermore, the frequency of engagement in vigorous activities is also examined based on cognitive skills. Ultimately, household incomes are tested to determine whether they can moderate the results obtained. Data of a cohort of people older than 50 and coming from easySHARE are used. In order to answer the main research question, multiple linear regression is used, with the addition of the household income variable when mediating for it. Binary logistic regression is adopted for investigating activity rates and cognitive skills. It is found that people who had higher cognitive skills at age 10 are less likely to suffer from a chronic disease, while the risk is higher for those who had below-average cognitive skills at age 10. Regarding incomes, the regression suggests that the higher they are, the less likely it is to be subject to chronic health conditions, although they mediate cognitive skills. Furthermore, people who had above-average cognitive skills at age 10 are more likely to engage in vigorous activities, while it is contrary for those with lower cognitive skills: they engage less often in physical exercises. Regarding the life-course approach, two principal aspects seem to influence the onset of chronic diseases: disease-preventing behaviours and socioeconomic conditions. Those two aspects combine and shape the path of the initial situation, with different outcomes based on the individual's choices and behaviours. For further research, it is advised to compare two different countries with, e.g., different average incomes to weight the effect that socioeconomic condition has. From a policy perspective, campaigns advocating for a healthy lifestyle can make people understand the importance choices have on later-life health development

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor)
Degree programme: Human Geography and Planning
Supervisor: Vogt, T.C. and Bister, L.
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2022 10:48
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2022 10:48

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