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Low Socioeconomic Status Found More Detrimental to Life Expectancy than Obesity

A low socioeconomic status is so damaging to health, it reduces life expectancy by 2.1 years. That's worse than obesity or high blood pressure and a consortium of global researchers are calling for it to be treated like any other major health risk factor.

The global study included data from 40,000 Melbournians courtesy of Cancer Council Victoria as well as studies from the UK, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy and the USA.

In these countries, researchers showed a low socioeconomic status was a major risk factor in ill health and premature death, but was rarely recognised in official health policy.

How does low socioeconomic status compare?

Current smoking reduced life expectancy by 4.8 years

Diabetes reduced life expectancy by 3.9 years

Being inactive reduced life expectancy by 2.4 years

Low socioeconomic status reduced life expectancy by 2.1 years

High blood pressure reduced life expectancy by 1.6 years

Obesity reduced life expectancy by 0.7 years

High alcohol consumption reduced life expectancy by 0.5 years

Study author Silvia Stringhini said the research showed health policies should target low socioeconomic groups if early mortality was to be avoided.

"Given the huge impact of socioeconomic status on health, it's vital that governments accept it as a major risk factor and stop excluding it from health policy," Stringhini said.


  • I'm not usually one to use the word, but.... duh!  Pretty obvious findings there, guys.

    I posted the article more for the interesting stats about life expectancy.  I'm surprised that obesity only reduces life expectancy by 0.7 years.  I'd thought it was closer to 10+ years based on all the doomsaying from doctors.  I suppose the quality of life of old obese people is pretty low, however.  Certainly not an excuse to eat three pizzas for breakfast every day.
  • How about 3 weetbix :/

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

  • On a more studious note it's not difficult to imagine several of the above detrimental factors could co-exist in the lives of the materialistically deprived.

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

  • I haven't had Weetabix in a very long time.  I turned my nose up at that kind of stuff when I was a kid, but now I can happily eat bowls of All-Bran without milk.

    I think you're right about the co-existence.  In the "developed" world (I feel the need to use that term more and more lightly these days) low-income people often seem to be overweight and prone to various addictions. 
  • Symptoms of life without hope or dreams.

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

  • It's amazing what a university education will get you nowadays.  Who else but a university grad could get a grant for a study to conclude what the rest of us have figured out years ago.  If I had a PhD. I could get a grant to study peoples reaction to having their thumb smashed by a hammer.  Then I could write a paper and have it published in a scientific journal and be praised by all my peers.  Then I could look down my nose at all you peons because I'm so smart (S-M-R-T).

    "How do you tell a communist?  Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin.  And how do you tell an anti-communist?  It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

    *Ronald Reagan*

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