STUDY: Wealthier Men More Likely to Be Obese, Have High Blood Pressure

Higher income is correlated with higher weight and blood pressure, a new study has found.

Japanese men making 10 million or more yen (about $94,000) annually have double the risk of developing high blood pressure compared to their lower income-making counterparts, researchers recently reported. They also had higher rates of being obese and having heavier drinking habits.

“[Men], but not women, with higher household incomes were more likely to be obese and drink alcohol every day. Both behaviors are major risk factors for hypertension,” said study author Dr. Shingo Yanagiya of the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine in a press release for the study, which was presented this month at a conference for the Japanese Circulation Society.

“Men with high-paying daytime jobs are at particular risk of high blood pressure,” he continued. “This applies to men of all ages, who can greatly decrease their chance of a heart attack or stroke by improving their health behaviors.”

To reach these findings, Yanagiya and his team tracked the income and blood pressure of 4,314 Japanese workers — 3,153 men and 1,161 women — with daytime jobs over a two-year period. Their findings were gendered in a way consistent with past research.

“Some previous Japanese surveys have reported that higher household income is associated with more undesirable lifestyles in men, but not in women,” said Yanagiya. “Our study supports this.”

Yanagiya was inspired to research the topic in part because, as a physician, he has seen hypertension in patients firsthand, and knows that Japan’s rates of high blood pressure are on the rise. Having high blood pressure is significantly a result of making poor health choices when it comes to eating and fitness, meaning that individuals have much personal control over preventing or combating the issue once it develops.

“High blood pressure is a lifestyle-related disease,” he said. “Men with higher incomes need to improve their lifestyles to prevent high blood pressure . . . Steps include eating healthily, exercising and controlling weight. Alcohol should be kept to moderate levels and binge drinking avoided.”

Photo: Getty Images

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