Introduction: Despite associated with multiple geriatric disorders, whether housing type, an indicator of socioeconomic status (SES) and environmental factors, is associated with accelerated biological aging is unknown. Furthermore, although individuals with low-SES have higher body mass index (BMI) and are more likely to smoke, whether BMI and smoking status moderate the association between SES and biological aging is unclear. We examined these questions in urbanized low-SES older community-dwelling adults.

Methods: First, we analyzed complete blood count data using the cox proportional hazards model and derived measures for biological age (BA) and biological age acceleration (BAA, the higher the more accelerated aging) (N = 376). Subsequently, BAA was regressed on housing type, controlling for covariates, including four other SES indicators. Interaction terms between housing type and BMI/smoking status were separately added to examine their moderating effects. Total sample and sex-stratified analyses were performed.

Results: There were significant differences between men and women in housing type and BAA. Compared to residents in ≥3 room public or private housing, older adults resided in 1–2 room public housing had a higher BAA. Furthermore, BMI attenuated the association between housing type and BAA. In sex-stratified analyses, the main and interaction effects were only significant in women. In men, smoking status instead aggravated the association between housing type and BAA.

Conclusion: Controlling for other SES indicators, housing type is an independent socio-environmental determinant of BA and BAA in a low-SES urbanized population. There were also sex differences in the moderating effects of health behaviors on biological aging.