Recent Study Links Childhood Poverty to Heart Disease


Growing up in poor living conditions might put children at risk for heart disease in adulthood.

Doctors are unsure of what might be contributing to the issue. Their next step is to figure out the exact cause. “Is it childhood diet, stress or other environmental factors? Currently, this is unknown,” according to Dr. Byron Lee, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Americans living below poverty tend to be in poorer health than others. Low incomes lead to more difficult decisions when it comes to food, shelter, and treatments.

For young children overcoming the health complications that come with living in poverty can be difficult to overcome.

Food Insecurity and Heart Disease

A family living in poverty has less options when it comes to purchasing food. Many children across the country are part of the National School Lunch Program. This program provides children with at least one nutritious meal throughout the day. Without these meals, children can suffer from improper growth, malnutrition and other complications. Outside of school, low income families are forced to buy less expensive foods that are packed with salt and other processed materials.

These unhealthy meals can lead to adult heart disease by causing hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. Research states that on average, low income families live over a mile away from grocery stores that supply healthier food options. Considering that a majority of these families have no transportation, most elect to purchase food at corner stores and fast food restaurants closer to home.

Lack of Shelter or Proper Attire Correlates to Heart Disease

Where you live affects your health. In many cases, low income households are unable to adequately heat their homes. A cold home increases the risks of cardiovascular, respiratory and rheumatoid diseases. when children don’t have adequate clothing, they are directly exposed to cold conditions.

According to, children living in overcrowded homes are 10 times more likely to contract meningitis and three times more likely to have respiratory problems. Illnesses are easily spread when people livein close contact. says, “Overcrowded homes have been linked with a slow growth in children which correlates with an increased risk of heart disease.”

Health Coverage is an Issue

Economic issues can have a massive toll on the mental health of children as well. According to research, children living in poverty have a much higher rate of absenteeism from school. Thus, they are also seven times more likely to drop out of school to work or assist family members. Missing school can result in developmental delays and learning disabilities. The stress of living in poverty can result in high blood pressure and mental diseases such as anxiety or depression.

The US Census Bureau states that in 2015 the uninsured rate for children living in poverty was 7.5 percent. As low-income children enter adulthood, they are more likely to continue living uninsured.

A child living in low-income conditions is likely to live that way for most of their lives. Combining all of these variables together can create an environment that will effect a child through his or her whole life. All of these factors contribute to recent research into heart failure.

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