DALLAS, April 28, 2020 – Upward income mobility is associated with a trade-off between wellness and cardiometabolic health, according to a new study published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association. The article appears in a special issue dedicated to exploring different aspects of the complex relationships between psychosocial factors and cardiovascular health.
To study cardiometabolic health, research has focused on metabolic syndrome, which is a collection of signs that predispose individuals to subsequent diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. These signs include abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar.
Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Georgia analyzed data from two studies spanning several decades: 7,542 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and 1,877 participants in the Midlife in the United States Study. Participants entered the studies when they were young and were followed into adulthood. They grouped participants into one of four categories based on their family income during childhood and adulthood: those who were systematically advantaged or systematically disadvantaged, and those who experienced upward or downward mobility (i.e. i.e. higher or lower income in adulthood compared to childhood).
Main conclusions of the researchers:
- Participants with upward mobility reported significantly less psychological distress than consistently disadvantaged people. In fact, in most comparisons, their levels of distress were comparable to those of consistently advantaged participants.
- However, this pattern was reversed for metabolic syndrome: upward mobile participants fared worse than those with constant advantage and closely resembled individuals with constant disadvantage.
- Since high socioeconomic status is associated with fewer health problems, it is generally believed that as people’s financial situation improves, their health will improve as well. However, these results suggest that upward mobility involves a trade-off, where improved financial conditions predict higher psychological well-being, but poorer cardiometabolic health.
- Upward mobility is not always beneficial for cardiometabolic health, although it improves economic conditions and mental health.
Study co-authors, disclosures, and funding sources are detailed in the manuscript.
The statements and conclusions of the study authors published in the scientific journals of the American Heart Association are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Association. The Association makes no representations or warranties as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding mainly from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical companies, device makers, and other corporations) also donate and fund Association-specific programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing scientific content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device companies and health insurance providers are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are committed to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with many organizations and thanks to millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for public health and share vital resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
Journal of the American Heart Association
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of any press releases posted on EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information via the EurekAlert system.