Sunday, December 10, 2006


Two recent studies below which refer to that -- rather surprisingly. It is usually the great unmentionable in the health research that I have seen. I have been writing on the matter since 1985

Socioeconomic Status and Trends in Disparities in 4 Major Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease Among US Adults, 1971-2002

By Sanjat Kanjilal et al.

Background: It is unknown whether the previously recognized disparities in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors related to annual income and educational level have diminished, persisted, or worsened in recent decades. The objective of this study was to examine 31-year trends in CVD risk factors by annual income and educational levels among US adults.

Methods: Four cross-sectional national surveys were used: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I (1971-1974), II (1976-1980), III (1988-1994), and 1999-2002. The main outcome measure was prevalence of high cholesterol (6.2 mmol/L]), high blood pressure (140/90 mm Hg), smoking, and diabetes mellitus.

Results: Between 1971 and 2002, the prevalence of all CVD risk factors, except diabetes, decreased in all income and education groups, but there has been little reduction in income- and education-related disparities in CVD risk factors and few improvements during the past 10 years. The prevalence of high blood pressure declined by about half in all income and education groups, ranging from 30.3% to 40.6% in 1971-1974 and 16.4% in 1999-2002, with the greatest reduction among those in the lowest income quartile and those with less than a high school education (18.0 and 15.9 percentage points, respectively). High cholesterol prevalence also declined in all groups and ranged from 28.8% to 32.4% in 1971-1974 and 15.3% to 22.0% in 1999-2002, with the largest decline (15.9 percentage points) among people with the highest incomes. Education- and income-related disparities in smoking widened considerably, because there were large declines in smoking prevalence among people with high incomes and education (from about 33% in 1971-1974 to about 14%-17% in 1999-2002) but only marginal reductions among those with low incomes and education (about 6-percentage point decline). Diabetes prevalence increased most among persons with low incomes and education.

Conclusions: Despite the general success in reducing CVD risk factors in the US population, not all segments of society are benefiting equally and improvements may have slowed. Education- and income-related disparities have worsened for smoking, and increases in diabetes prevalence have occurred primarily among persons with a lower socioeconomic status. Diabetes prevention and smoking prevention and cessation programs need to specifically target persons of lower income and education.


Association of Childhood Socioeconomic Status With Subsequent Coronary Heart Disease in Physicians

Michelle M. Kittleson et al.

Background: Adult socioeconomic status (SES) is an independent risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease (CHD), but whether low childhood SES has an effect in adults who have achieved high SES is unknown.

Methods: We examined the risk of CHD and mortality associated with low childhood SES in 1131 male medical students from The Johns Hopkins Precursors Study, a prospective cohort of graduates of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1948 to 1964 with a median follow-up of 40 years.

Results: Of 1131 subjects, 216 (19.1%) were from low-SES families. Medical students from low-SES families were slightly older at graduation (26.8 vs 26.2 years; P = .004) and gained more weight over time (P = .01). Low childhood SES conferred a 2.40-fold increased hazard of developing CHD on or before age 50 years (95% confidence interval, 1.21-4.74) but not at older ages. The impact of low SES on early CHD was not reduced by adjusting for other CHD risk factors, including body mass index, cholesterol level, amount of exercise, depression, coffee drinking, smoking, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and parental CHD history. Low childhood SES did not confer an increased risk of all-cause mortality.

Conclusions: Low childhood SES is associated with an increased incidence of CHD before age 50 years among men with high adulthood SES. This risk is not mediated by traditional risk factors for CHD. These findings highlight the importance of childhood events on the development of CHD early in adulthood and the persistent effects of low SES.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). For a summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and no lasting harm from them has ever been shown.


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