The burden of being poor: Stress at the belly of the matter

Publication University of California, San Francisco

Ashley E. Mason

Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Mar 15. pii: S0889-1591(19)30271-5.


Steptoe and colleagues’ recent article published in Brain, Behavior, & Immunity (Steptoe et al., 2018) broadened our knowledge of the associations between lower socioeconomic status (SES) and a diverse array of increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Notably, the authors found that an association between lower SES and slower cardiovascular recovery following a laboratory mental stress task was stronger among individuals with greater central adiposity, after accounting for body mass index (BMI). Although Steptoe and colleagues reported on several CVD risk factors, here I briefly address two of them: cardiovascular recovery and central adiposity. Steptoe and colleagues’ analyses suggest shifts in our approaches to CVD risk reduction in low SES groups. In particular, analyses suggest that shifts from a focus on (1) cardiovascular reactivity to cardiovascular recovery, and (2) BMI to central adiposity, warrant consideration. Such shifts hold implications for interventions targeting CVD risk reduction in low SES groups.