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Neighborhood structural disadvantage and biological aging in a sample of Black middle age and young adults


Research on the social determinants of health has suggested that neighborhood disadvantage may undermine healthy aging and is particularly relevant for understanding health disparities. Recently, this work has examined deoxyribonucleic acid methylation (DNAm)-based measures of biological aging to understand the risk factors for morbidity and mortality. However, it is unknown whether neighborhood disadvantage is related to different indices of DNAm-based aging among Black Americans and whether such neighborhood effects vary as a function of age or gender.


Our analyses of a Black American sample included 448 young adults and 493 middle-aged adults. We measured neighborhood disadvantage using the Area Deprivation Index at the census block group level. DNAm-based accelerated aging indices were measured using established procedures. Regressions with clustered standard errors were used for the analysis.


Neighborhood disadvantage was independently associated with acceleration in PhenoAge, GrimAge, and DunedinPoAm, among young and middle-aged adults. Further, there was no evidence that gender conditioned the effects of neighborhood disadvantage on the aging indices.


Regardless of age groups or gender, accelerated biological aging among Black Americans is partly rooted in differences in neighborhood disadvantage. From a policy standpoint, our findings suggest that programs that decrease neighborhood disadvantage are likely to increase healthy aging, especially among Black Americans.

Lei, M., Berg, M. T.., Simons, R., & Beach, S. Neighborhood structural disadvantage and biological aging in a sample of Black middle age and young adults. 293 114654. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114654.