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Upward Income Mobility Tied to Worse Cardiometabolic Health

Worse outcomes on all health indicators predicted by downward mobility

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TUESDAY, April 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Upward income mobility is associated with lower perceived stress and fewer depressive symptoms but with higher rates of metabolic syndrome, according to a study published online April 28 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Gregory E. Miller, Ph.D., from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and colleagues analyzed prospective data from 7,542 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and 1,877 in the Midlife in the United States study to examine how upward income mobility relates to subsequent perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and metabolic syndrome.

The researchers found evidence of a trade-off between better psychological well-being and worse cardiometabolic health in both studies. Upward mobility predicted lower perceived stress and fewer depressive symptoms as well as higher rates of metabolic syndrome. By contrast, worse outcomes on all health indicators were predicted by downward mobility. Across cohorts, the magnitude of the mobility-health associations was similar.

"The patterns in this emerging literature suggest two somewhat counter-intuitive conclusions for scientists and clinicians working on cardiovascular disease prevention," the authors write. "The first is that upward mobility is not always beneficial for cardiometabolic health, even if it improves economic standing and mental health. The second is that psychological well-being and cardiometabolic health are not always in alignment."

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