Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said that it is hard to say what came first -- lower IQ or wider waistlines. Some research has linked low IQs or lower education levels to lower socioeconomic status. "We do know that it can be expensive to eat properly, and if you are a single parent of two kids who is struggling to pay the bills, it is hard to stretch the dollar," he said.
Healthy foods are often more expensive and harder to come by than unhealthy foods, he noted. Certain zip codes may also have more fast food restaurants, and fewer outdoor public spaces that are safe for activity. "This is a thought-provoking study that doesn't give us all the answers," Kopecky said.
American Heart Association President Dr. Gordon F. Tomaselli agreed. "You could argue that people with a lower socioeconomic status may not be in a position to hear messages where we broadcast them," Tomaselli said.
"We have to make our messages clear and straightforward and easy to understand," he added. This may include reaching out in non-traditional ways, including social media, he said.
Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
For tips on how to measure waist-to-hip ratio, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Jerzy Leppert, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Center for Clinical Research, Uppsala University, Vasteras, Sweden; Stephen Kopecky, M.D., cardiologist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., preventive cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Gordon F. Tomaselli, M.D., chief, cardiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Balti
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