University of Iowa researchers say once it was the poor who had a problem with obesity but today America’s highest-income citizens have fallen prey to the same epidemic. Doctor Jennifer Robinson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the U-of-I’s College of Public Health, says since 1970 the national rate of obesity has doubled. Her team looked at reports from the 1970s and that among found among lower-income groups, people who made 25-thousand dollars a year or less, nearly one-quarter were obese…whereas among the group earning 60-thousand dollars or more, only ten-percent were obese in that era. In the most recent numbers from 2001-2002, the obesity rate’s increased from 23 to 33-percent in that low-income group, it’s gone up almost three times in the high-income group, from ten-percent in the first survey to nearly 30-percent. Robinson says it remains a trend that America’s fatter than ever, with obesity on the rise among all groups. Over two or three decades, she says they looked at what’s changed for the various segments of society, and why their patterns changed. There are certainly fewer grocery stores in poor neighborhoods, she says, and fresh fruit and vegetables cost more. It’s often not safe to exercise there, either. For the wealthy, the problems are different but similar — portion sizes are larger whether they’re sit-down restaurant meals or fast-food takeout, and middle-class people who’ve moved out to the suburbs spend more time in their cars. She says the people gaining weight aren’t necessarily lazy…but they’re likely to be inactive. People in the higher-income groups are spending more hours at work, as well as more hours commuting, and she says the nature of work has changed as well. While it may be a demanding job, sitting at a computer isn’t an active one. She says the study shouldn’t take away from legitimate health concerns among low-income Americans, but may give all people, in all income brackets, a reason to reflect on their lifestyles and health. The study was presented this morning to the national conference of the American Heart Association.
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