“Becoming American”

I only guessed 7 out of 10 correct on the Health Equity Quiz.  After reading the answers on the first three questions I was able to correlate these answers with the rest of the questions in order to guess correctly on the rest.  All 10 answers were guesses, to be honest.  The statistic I found to be the most surprising with that of the greatest difference in life expectancy observed between U.S. counties.  I did not expect the life expectancy to jump by such an extreme amount simply between counties.  To have an expected extra 15 years in one county compared to another is simply shocking. 

“Becoming American” is the perfect example of how globalization, urbanization, and development does not always equate to better health.  New immigrants into the U.S. are healthier than Americans.  However, the longer they stay here the more their health degrades.  The main family portrayed in the video is that of Amador Bernal.  Amador moved to the U.S. to work in the mushroom fields of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  He was eventually allowed to bring his family here with him.  Amador and his family are very close knit, as are most Mexican immigrant families.  They help each other out as much as they can.  In example is that of Amador taking his relatives to the store because he has a car and they do not. 

However, health of the immigrants starts to deteriorate as they spend more time in America.  Since their wages are so low and they are already having trouble making ends meet in the upscale community they live in, they do not take time off their 7 day a week work week to see a doctor if they do have symptoms or issues.  As children are here longer they begin eating as American do; eating more and more unhealthily.  They also start to lose their family ties as parents are working long hours to support the family.  When the children are old enough to work they do; because of this their grades can suffer in school.  Bad grades then equate to a lesser education and lesser income when they have their own family to support. 

In helping health of the community, free clinics are set up in places such as the farm where Amador works.  The community center helps to keep the kids safe.  They offer a place to go after school where they can study, get help with school work if needed, have access to a computer, and just hang out. 

Politics, economics, environment, culture, biology, and individual choice all influence illness in different population.  Politics can help to create better living conditions, increase minimum wage, and pass laws to keep companies and industries from discriminating.  However, politics can also do great harm to populations’ health.  They can easily ignore that of cities and counties in need and can affect the views of the majority on that of the minority.  

Economics also have extreme affects on health.  When the surrounding economy is doing well, people are making money and spending money, housing worth is efficient, and jobs are plentiful more people will be under less stress.  In contract, when the economy is decreasing health will also deteriorate.  When people are stressed about money, jobs, and housing their health will be affected negatively.  Stress, especially constant stress, has a largely negative effect on health. 

When the environment is composed of moldy walls, unhealthy foods, and gangs there are more issues with respiratory problems, obesity, high blood pressure, and untimely death just to name a few.   If there is ample access to healthy foods, safe streets, healthy housing people tend to be healthier overall. 

Culture can also greatly affect one’s health.  It has been shown that cultures that promote close family bonds are usually healthier whereas when culture does not attack great importance on families people tend to isolate themselves and extreme isolation can kill.  Biology is a very tricky health affecter.  Some people and ethnicities are more susceptible to certain diseases and health problems whereas certain health issues can actually help fight other health issues.  In example, a person with one single sickle cell recessive gene has a better chance of living through being infected with malaria.  A person with no recessive genes for sickle cell is more likely to die from a malaria infection.  Then again a person with two recessive genes for sickle cell will have the sickle cell mutation and are unlikely to live beyond a certain age.  

Lastly is that of individual choice.  Persons can easily choose to eat at a fast food restaurant or pack healthy food for their day.  A person can choose to smoke or to not smoke, to drink in access or to not drink, or even to join or not join a gang.

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