Entries in Socioeconomic Status (2)


After Smoking, Obesity Next in Causing Death and Health Inequalities

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(GLASGOW, Scotland) -- Multiple studies have identified smoking as one of the major contributors to premature death and health inequalities among people of lower socioeconomic status.  So if smoking was eliminated from the equation, would health inequalities disappear?  This is the question addressed by the authors of a University of Glasgow study, albeit in a population of Scottish women.
The authors analyzed medical information of over 3,600 Scottish women who never smoked, based on their occupational status as a measure of socioeconomic level, and their weight.  They reported in the British Medical Journal that over the 28-year period of the study, differences in death rates and health inequalities were still present.  Women in lower occupational classes were about 30 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular diseases than women in higher classes, and the increased death rate could mostly be explained by differences in obesity, blood pressure and lung function.  

Even though obesity was more prevalent among non-smoking women of lower socioeconomic levels, rates of obesity among all non-smokers were higher than among smokers.  The authors think that since smoking rates among women were higher 35 years ago, smoking may have concealed the true extent of obesity and its negative health effects in women.  They go so far as to suggest that the decline in smoking in the past few decades may have contributed to the increase in overweight or obese people.
It’s important to point out that the authors are not advocating smoking, and Dr. Mackenbach, the author of the accompanying editorial, writes that “it is important not to forget that smoking is a much stronger risk factor for morality than most other risk factors, including obesity.”  

On the other hand, the findings here may not be applicable to the U.S. since smoking habits and obesity patterns, particularly along socioeconomic lines, may not reflect those found in Scotland.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Poorer Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients More Susceptible to Depression

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and belonging to lower socioeconomic groups experience more depression than do more affluent patients, researchers say.

While other studies have looked at the effects of functional disabilities or socioeconomic status, researchers at the University of California San Francisco conducted the first study analyzing whether an association between disability and depression is different in relation to socioeconomic status.

"If an interaction is present, then there is a group of vulnerable patients who could benefit from earlier identification and treatment," researchers wrote in the study.

The study further states that a possible explanation for the link between depression and RA patients possessing economic deficiencies could be that these patients simply have fewer resources and less support.

Researchers of the study concluded that recognizing the relationship between the socioeconomic status and psychological effects in RA patients can reveal a certain population of people at higher risk for depression, and furthermore, guide future treatment methods and prevention in susceptible patients.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio