Collateral Damage

I didn’t do as well as I would have liked on the Health Equity quiz, but it wasn’t terrible. I received a 6/10.  I was surprised (and slightly thrown off at times) by how much of it was based on political economy, however having some history in the area from past classes ended up helping, and made most of the statistics provided seem much more logical and far less shocking.  The statistic that I found most surprising, not to mention interesting (even watched the correlating ‘unnatural causes’ video) was that (new) immigrants are the healthiest of all people in the U.S., at least for the first five years.

The video I picked to discuss was, Collateral Damage, about the Marshallese people.  This episode discussed the people of the Republic of Marshall, their constant relocating/recolonizing throughout history, the inequality of life among the islands as well as throughout the world, and the effects these and other elements have on their health.  The people of these islands, live in a very unique situation; they are susceptable to a full spectrum of diseases & illnesses, such as Diabetes, Tuburculosis, Malnutrition. This is because although they live in poor, overcrowded communities (more densely populated than Manhattan) of developing/third world societies, they are also subjected to the developed ‘middle class’ society through the military base on a neighboring island (many islanders ferry over to work there, or once in awhile some go to do laundry).  The obvious inequalities of social class, development, and wealth prove major factors in peoples health.  Even when islanders are able to escape to a life in the US, their problems, health & otherwise, follow them and their families.

The development, spread, and treatment of illness are influenced by many factors: politics, economics, environment, culture, biology and individual choice all play their own role.  Individual Choice for example, as depicted in this case study, was important because often people didn’t want others to know they were sick and therefore avoided seeking treatment.  Economics was also very important in this study because these people were living in poverty stricken communities with about 20 people per household.  They couldn’t afford medicine or hospital care, and living in such crowded environments creates easy access for the spreading of such diseases (it made me sick, having worked in a hospital & seen patients with TB in huge isolated rooms all to themselves & then to see this). And with the continued effect of TB on the families that moved to the US (still a much higher rate then others), biology comes into play.

Collateral Damage

I did not do so well on the health equity quiz.  I got a 5 out of 10, but the statistic that caught me off guard was that the United Stateswas tied for 29th for overall life expectancy.  I knew we were not number one but thought that we would be within the top 10.  This stat through me for a loop because the United States are one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world and to be tied for 29th for life expectancy seems like a bit of a slap in the face.

I chose to read the “Collateral Damage” article from the Unnatural Causes archives.  This is about a population of people who live in the Pacific Ocean on a group of islands called theMarshall Islands.  These people over the past century have been exposed to many different illnesses, the big one being TB, and have been relocated to many of the different islands due to American influence.  At one point after WWII, the Americans had started to test atomic bombs off shore of some of the northern islands, and one day they made a miscalculation.  The blast ended up being much larger than anticipated, and radiation leaked onto some of the inhabited islands near by.  The people were treated for burns and were tracked to see how they were doing.  Eventually one of the islands was taken by the Americans to build a military missile base and living area for those Americans working there and their families.  With the allure of new jobs, the Marshallese people began to go to theislandofKwajaleinwhere the base was located, and many who went got jobs, but could not live on the island.  The Marshallese working there had to take a ferry to a near by island were they lived.  This causes a health problem because not only do they get diseases from poverty where they live, but they also get diseases from developed areas where they work.  As an escape some Marshallese have gone toArkansaswhere there are plenty of jobs and the cost of living is low.  But they cannot escape the poverty they once lived in, where they still are at a high risk for TB and other diseases in developing countries

The development, spread and treatment of illness is influenced by many factors.  Politics can influence these by passing laws and such that prohibit or allow the use of certain drugs that can better or worsen ones health.  The environment can be full of animals and insects that carry different diseases that can easily be spread, but can also be full of plants that hold the answers to treating those diseases.  Lastly, culture can affect illness by some people refusing medication because it is not accepted in their culture, or they only use certain practices when treating an illness.

Bad Sugar

I got 6 out of 10 questions correctly on the quiz. Not a great score, but it shows my naivety. What shocked me was how low our quality of living was. However, the quiz is a little dated. Looking again, our life expectancy in the US has dropped even lower: We are now ranked 50th. (Source: This shows how quickly we are dropping. However, in comparison to life expectancy hundreds of years ago, it is a bit higher. Although we should still be mindful, active, and healthy in order to increase our life expectancy.

I watched the video “Bad Sugar” and it was essentially showcasing the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes among Native Americans, particularly the Tahona and Pima (sp?) tribes in Arizona. These tribes lived along a river that provided for them, and their ancestors engineered along the river to create farms in a desert environment. However, this river was diverted through dams and in typical American fashion, those who used it the most and benefited the most received it the least as a result. Now expectancy for type 2 diabetes to develop among these natives is nearly twice as high as for other races. This is due to the large amount of the native population in the area (50%) being below the poverty line. This means they aren’t eating healthy. Their best and cheapest choices for food means the most sugary and unhealthy food possible. This leads to diabetes quickly. Stress also leads to increased blood sugar, which means increased diabetes. Stress can easily be caused by living in difficult conditions, and living in poverty would definitely count as “difficult conditions”.

It can certainly be said the the development and urbanization around these native tribes has lead (nearly directly) to their diabetes problem. Yes urbanization means we can help treat diabetes, but only typically for those that can afford it. In this case, it won’t be natives living below the poverty line. Their culture has contributed somewhat, however. In the beginning of the episode, they mention that diabetes was almost a way of life. Everyone knew they would get it eventually, so why bother trying to change your lifestyle to avoid it? The elders would almost dismiss the disease, simply referring to it as having “bad sugar”.

It’s about “More than just a pay check” it’s about lives (W2 Activity)

Seeing as I’ve spent years studying health and society I would have been disappointed if I didn’t do as well as I did on the Health Equity quiz [9/10]. The most eye opening statistic from it was the differences in life expectancy between zip codes.

The video-clip that I chose to discuss is “More than just a pay check”. It’s about the lives of workers and the loss of livelihood. It’s about the desire to compound the bottom line and the despair of falling below the line, of poverty. We live in America where the choices of few ravish whole towns and force people out onto the streets, create addictions and dysfunctional families. This is not the America our founders died for. In 1773, they donned warpaint and destroyed the property of a giant multinational corporation; the East India Trade company who ran global commerce with generous subsidies from the British Crown and destroyed homegrown businesses and local economies (Harmann). Enough about the past; you can learn a lot about it from the present. Here is the story of one plant and many lives in Greenville, MI.

Electrolux- Greenville, MI, USA

The closed Greenville manufacturing plant - Current TV(Outsourcing Greenville)(Mlive)

Electrolux- Juarez, Mexico (Cephas)

Electrolux demolished its Greenville, MI plant and relocated operations to Juarez, Mexico. The video camera followed the rubble into the neighborhoods and homes of the men and women who had to step out of that building for the last time. Seeing their livelihood crushed by a wrecking ball they fell victim to depression, anxiety and stress. According to hospital reports; three times as many people took their lives following that plant closing than previous years. Three times as many homes fell victim to domestic violence as well. It’s was a grim storyline in our state of Michigan. Across the Atlantic in Swedan, there was a story similar to that of Greenville’s but different in all the ways that matter. I suppose you could say the only similarity was an Electrolux plant shut down. The things that matter, the people, were treated with dignity. In Sweden, Electrolux Emploees were guaranteed 80% unemployment as long as they were pursuing work or an education. The government of Sweden along with its powerful labor unions pressured the company into investing in the creation of other jobs. Back home in the Mitten, in Greenville, most were left without a job, or any benefits.

           An average CEO earns more before lunchtime (~2 hours) on the very first day of work in a year than a minimum wage worker earns after a year of work (Mishel). People can not live off of minimum wage. If the minimum wage rose at the same rate as the average CEO’s salary it would atleast in the $20’s (Nation of Change). If only it would keep up with inflation it ought to be $10.50 (Nation of Change). We should look at successful politics, economics, and cultures and how they conduct business. Serious regulation of unethical business practices must be devised. Organized Labor must be strengthened, the government should work for the people instead of working the people. Hard working Americans ought to demand their rights. The health issues ought to be addressed by social workers and public health departments; unethical business has become pandemic.



Mishel, Lawrence: CEO-Minimum Wage Ration Soars

Hartmann, Thom: The Real Boston Tea Party was an Anti-Corporate Revolt

Outsourcing Greenville



Nation of Change
Make Work Pay For US- CEO Pay Vs The Rest of Us

In Sickness and In Wealth

I only got a few of the questions right on the Health Equity Quiz! I thought it presented some very interesting statistics. The most surprising to me was that life expectancy in the U.S. is ranked only 29th in the world, and yet the U.S. spends more than twice the average per person of other industrialized countries. Most of the statistics in the quiz did not reflect well on the state of health and healthcare in the U.S.

I chose the “In Sickness and in Wealth” case study. The video shows the lives of four families with very different socioeconomic statuses in parts of Louisville, Kentucky. As we see throughout the video, the family with the highest socioeconomic status also is able to maintain the highest level of health; they have time to exercise, take vacations, and are able to eat well. They also have the highest life expectancy. As the video starts to show families with lower and lower socioeconomic status, we see life expectancy decrease. These families tend to not have the time or resources to make choices to eat well or exercise frequently. Additionally, the video describes a study about chronic stress and corresponding high cortisol levels, which could contribute to poorer health and lower life expectancy. In summary, the video shows us that our socioeconomic class can shape our opportunities and resources for good health.

Politics, economics, environment, culture, biology, and individual choices are all factors that interact to impact health and illness. Economics plays a role because if you have the financial resources to seek out medical assistance when you’re ill, you’re more likely to be able to afford prescription medicine and regain your health. Additionally, you’ll be able to take preventative measures for your health, such as eating well and exercising.  Politics and policy-making can help create a better environment to live in, but it can also create a poorer living environment as well. Living in an unhealthy environment reduces a person’s opportunities for good health, because they are constantly surrounded by factors such as poor air quality or little access to healthy foods. Our biology and our genes are a basic starting point for our health, and a family history of certain diseases may mean we are more likely to have them ourselves, especially if the environmental conditions do not allow for preventative medicine. Lastly, culture and individual choices have a huge impact on health and illness. For instance, different cultures have vastly different definitions of what constitutes a disease and how it is treated. If a person’s own cultural context does not correspond with that of the doctor treating him or her, they may not receive the treatment they need or desire to prevent the spread of disease. Despite our individual environments and biology, we all have the opportunity to make decisions that have a positive impact on our health, such as exercising.

Becoming an American

I was surprised to find that I did awful on the Health Equity quiz, I think my final score was something like 8 out of 22 correct. I was most surprised to see the United States rank 29th among countries when looking at life expectancy when they spend almost more than any other country on health expenses. I chose to analyze the episode “Becoming an American” because the latino paradox is something very interesting to me and was the underlying theme of the entire episode. Just as the title implies, this episode chronicles an immigrant family’s day-to-day life highlighting their hardships and tight-knit relationships despite long work hours and stressful living conditions.

The latino paradox is a phenomenon in which young latino immigrants exhibit the best overall mental and physical health but by five years of living within the United States, they exhibit some of the worst health, being prone to hypertension and other obesity related complications. A theory is that the young immigrants have such good health because they were able to make the journey, leaving their less healthy counterparts behind in their native countries. Upon assimilating to American culture and the American way of life, their health seems to rapidly decline, including mental health. Latinos, Mexicans specifically have very low rates of mental illness such as depression and anxiety but comparatively, Americans have very high rates of these illnesses. One theory proposed is that the American way of life is detrimental to mental and physical health, we work more hours than any other nation which results in less time spent with family and less time to foster other important social relationships human beings thrive on. Latino familial culture is characterized by very close-knit family units in which the needs of the family are emphasized over the individual, we see an example of this in the episode when the two eldest sons mention working long hours and neglecting homework just to provide income for their families. Conversely American culture emphasizes the individual over the family unit. The long hours that migrant parents work at minimum wage jobs means less time spent fostering close family ties, effectively breaking down those stress-reducing relationships and resulting in weakness to mental and physical illnesses.

For these immigrant families, the development, spread and treatment of illness is affected adversely by politics, economic and environment. These families are most often very low income which normally limits the environment that they live in, mostly to poorer neighborhoods and schools. As a result of the economic hardships these families face and lack of political protection via job benefits, it is not likely for them to have access to adequate health care therefore adversely affecting the treatment of illness. The father figure in the episode had not been to the doctor once since visiting the U.S.A. and because  the family lives on such a tight budget it is likely that it is because of the cost. Also stemming from economic problems, individuals choose to purchase more affordable food options which in the U.S.A. means less healthy options such as fresh produce, effectively bringing them closer to obesity and resulting complications. The remnants of their culture serve to protect them from the adverse health effects of American culture but as they assimilate to the American way of life, their health declines.


When the Bough Breaks

I didn’t do so well on the health equity quiz, even though I’ve seen those statistics before in other classes that I’ve taken. I ended up getting 6/10. The statistic that I always find to be the most surprising in where the United States rates in life expectancy compared to other countries. People think that because the U.S. is such a developed country and we supposedly have all this great technology that we would be higher on the list than number 29.

When the Bough Breaks is about the premature births among African American women. It tells the story of a woman named Kim Richards who is a well educated, middle class, African American woman who’s daughter was born two and half months early. It tries to determine what factors could cause a pre term birth even though she exercised, ate right, and received good prenatal care. Two doctors did studies and found out that the underlying cause of these pre term births among African American women was racism. They say that it puts a lot of stress on women throughout their whole life and stress can lead to major problems in pregnancy. These doctors say that even though an African American woman may be economically stable and healthy, racism can override these things to cause the stress. They believe that chronic stress is the underlying cause.

Many things can lead to illness including politics, environment, and culture. If you live in a country that provides universal health care there is a better chance for you and your family to receive the specific care that you need. This also leads to less stress of having to worry about saving money for your child or other family member to see a doctor. Where you live also can affect the amount of care you receive. Whether you live in a rural part of the United States or a rural part of Africa, you still need to have transportation to get to the doctor or nearest clinic. Many people cannot afford to even physically get to the doctor. Also, many cultures do not believe in western medicine and may refuse medication or treatment from their physician. Also, some cultures find it shameful to admit you have a problem so this makes it difficult for someone to talk to a psychiatrist when they know their family will not agree with their choice to do so.

“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.

Bad Sugar

I answered exactly one half of the healthy equity quiz questions correctly. From previous classes I have been made aware of the poor health ranking of the United States in comparison to other countries around the world. I had been taught that the health of nation does not just depend on weather or not a country has the best or most advanced technology, but it also depends on economic, social and political factors. Although I was aware of this general trend, I was still very shocked by the specific statistics and struggled with answering the questions correctly.

The unnatural causes film “Bad Sugar” focused in on a native tribes in the western United States and took a deeper look into their unusually high rates of diabetes. These rates have climbed to be seven times the normal rate. For a long time, the way of life for these people (hunting wild game/living off the land) kept them healthy, but over time, this way of life has changed.

Scientists are working hard to uncover the reason for this occurance and have looked into genes to find the answer for these unusually high rates of diabetes in these individuals. However, they are struggling to find any common trend underlying all similar circumstances. Other professionals decided to look into social factors to explain this phenomenon. It is not simply poor diet that leads to type two diabetes, but also stress caused by poverty that can lead to diabetes.

When these people were stripped of their land and their native cultural practices and forced to a western lifestyle, their way of life shifted entirely. No longer were they living their normal healthy lifestyles, but now they are forced into a new high stress environment. It is the new social and economic situation of these people that is causing such a high incidence of diabetes, and it cannot be pawned off on something as simple as diet and exercise.

Through this exercise I have seen that the spread and treatment of illness is so much deeper and more complex than a simple cause and effect relationship. It combines all aspects of ones life, from culture to environment to economic status, and this is what truly determines ones health. It seems terribly unfair that ones health is almost predetermined the moment they are born. We are ascribed with a social and economic status, along with genes. Our environment, culture and biology are the three most contributing factors determining our health and unfortunately there is not too much that can be done. However, our individual choices, including diet, exercise and health habits, can sometimes help to sway the outcomes of ones overall health. Although an African American man may be more susceptible to diabetes due to his social status, his culture and his genes, by making smart lifestyle choices (not smoking, healthy diet and exercise), he can reduce his risks of developing diabetes.

In Sickness and in Wealth

I did alright on the health quiz for the most part; I received a 8 our of ten, which I wasn’t unhappy with. The question that really threw me off was the one concerning what group of individuals had the greatest health. Due to stereotypes and false thoughts, I assumed that recently immigrated Hispanics would not have the best health. However, it makes sense when you truly think about it. Children’s parents are around more, the food they are consuming is much better for them, and there is a strong family bond. This, however, changes once individuals enter the United States, and the longer they are there, the more American they become, which is when their health decreases substantially. For the most part however, I wasn’t surprised with what was on that quiz; being a Sociology major, I have taken several classes, in which I have learned things, for instance, even though health care in America is so expensive, we still have the highest infant mortality rates, compared to any other industrial nation.

A prime example of how development, urbanization, and globalization affects health among local populations, is when you look at the ever growing income gap in America. The middle class is shrinking, and the working class is growing, thus meaning that individuals are becoming more poor, and do not have the means to afford health care. This concerns the following topics I stated above, since even though we are in a technology driven society, where there are advances and treatments for almost anything, most individuals do not have the access to it, unless they are able to financially afford it. In our society, we should not be able to tell how long an individual is going to live, nor what they could die from, depending on what neighborhood they live in, or their yearly salary. Everyone should have access to good health care, not on the basis of whether or not they can afford it.

Politics, economics, environment, culture, biology, and individual choice all influence the development, spread, and treatment of illness. Biology accomplishes this by being the thing that thing that hopes to find out how illnesses spread and how to treat them. Politics and government play an important part in how illness is spread and treated since they decide whom and how individuals should receive medication. The culture determines how the public will treat individuals that have this illness, whether they will be stigmatized against, treated as normal, or pity will be brought onto them. Environment and individual choice almost go hand and hand; your environment determines what you are exposed to, though individual choice is when you do or do not choose to partake in certain decisions, which have the possibility of causing illness in your body.