Metabolic syndrome risks following the great recession in rural black young adults

Gregory E. Miller*, Edith Chen, Tianyi Yu, Gene H. Brody

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background--Some of the country's highest rates of morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease are found in lowerincome black communities in the rural Southeast. Research suggests these disparities originate in the early decades of life, and partly reflect the influence of broader socioeconomic forces acting on behavioral and biological processes that accelerate cardiovascular disease progression. However, this hypothesis has not been tested explicitly. Here, we examine metabolic syndrome (MetS) in rural black young adults as a function of their family's economic conditions before and after the Great Recession. Methods and Results--In an ongoing prospective study, we followed 328 black youth from rural Georgia, who were 16 to 17 years old when the Great Recession began. When youth were 25, we assessed MetS prevalence using the International Diabetes Federation's guidelines. The sample's overall MetS prevalence was 18.6%, but rates varied depending on family economic trajectory from before to after the Great Recession. MetS prevalence was lowest (10.4%) among youth whose families maintained stable low-income conditions across the Recession. It was intermediate (21.8%) among downwardly mobile youth (ie, those whose families were lower income before the Recession, but slipped into poverty). The highest MetS rates (27.5%) were among youth whose families began the Recession in poverty, and sank into more meager conditions afterwards. The same patterns were observed with 3 alternative MetS definitions. Conclusions--These patterns suggest that broader economic forces shape cardiometabolic risk in young blacks, and may exacerbate disparities already present in this community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere006052
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Socioeconomic position

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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