Global study suggests need for strategies to combat unhealthy lifestyles among the poor and the rich

August 26, 2012, McMaster University

Healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, proteins and total fats are consumed more often by the wealthy while poorer people consume more carbohydrates, says a new study involving people from 17 countries.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study involving 154,000 individuals from 628 communities reported on the patterns of diet, physical activity and smoking, was presented at the 2012 Congress on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.

The study found individuals who were poor, or from poorer countries were more active chiefly because of higher in jobs, at home, and during transportation.

The markedly lower level of obligatory physical activity was not compensated for by higher levels of recreational in richer countries or richer individuals. Those who were rich and those in richer countries quit smoking much more often so that rates of smoking was lower in the wealthier individuals and wealthier countries.

"Policies to prevent cardiovascular disease need to focus on different aspects of lifestyle among the rich versus the poor and between rich and poor countries," said professor Salim Yusuf of the Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences and principal investigator of the study.

The study was conducted in 17 countries and coordinated worldwide by the Population Health Research Institute and supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Indian Council of Medical Research, several other peer review organizations and pharmaceutical companies.

"These results provide new insights into the need to customize prevention policies differently for the rich and the poor and for countries at different economic levels," said professor David Wood of the University of London, UK and an expert in cardiovascular disease prevention.

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