The Global Cardiovascular Risk Transition: Associations of Four Metabolic Risk Factors with Macroeconomic Variables in 1980 and 2008
Background—It is commonly assumed that globally CVD risk factors are associated with affluence and Westernization. We investigated the associations of body mass index (BMI), fasting plasma glucose (FPG), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and serum total cholesterol (TC) with national income, Western diet, and (for BMI) urbanization in 1980 and 2008.
Methods and Results—Country-level risk factor estimates for 199 countries between 1980 and 2008 were from a previous systematic analysis of population-based data. We analyzed the associations between risk factors and natural logarithm of per-capita GDP [Ln(GDP)], a measure of Western diet, and (for BMI) percent population living in urban areas. In 1980, there was a positive association between national income and population mean BMI, SBP, and TC. By 2008, the slope of the association between Ln(GDP) and SBP became negative for women and zero for men. TC was associated with national income and Western diet throughout the period. In 1980, BMI rose with per-capita GDP and then flattened at about Int$7000; by 2008, the relationship resembled an inverted-U for women, peaking at middle income levels. BMI had a positive relationship with percent urban population in both 1980 and 2008. FPG had weaker associations with these country macro characteristics, but was positively associated with BMI.
Conclusions—The changing associations of metabolic risk factors with macroeconomic variables indicate that there will be a global pandemic of hyperglycemia and diabetes, together with high blood pressure in low income countries, unless effective lifestyle, and pharmacological interventions are implemented.
- Received January 22, 2013.
- Accepted February 12, 2013.