In Sickness and in Wealth

I did terrible on the health equity quiz (4/10). The ones I got correct I learned in my previous anthropology and sociology classes. It surprises me that we are ranked 29th in the world for life expectancy. You would think because we have a good health care system and are a well-developed country we would be a lot higher. However, we are not due to our class system in our society that a lot of other developed countries do not have. Not everyone in our society experiences the same things, such as chronic stress experienced by the lower class, and these take a toll on our bodies. Another statistic I found interesting was how Latino immigrants have the best health when they first arrive. It all makes sense though because they live in a more egalitarian society and then they come here and are considered either poor or lower class. Due to their lower class status, when they come here, their health declines really quickly: within a few years.

In Sickness and in Wealth explains the health imbalances in the United States due to our economic inequality via our class system. In the movie we are shown how a CEO of a company and an unemployed mother live different lives and how this affects their health status. As for the CEO he has better health as compared to the unemployed mother because he is considered upper class. Upper class people, like the CEO, have more access to better resources (gyms, playgrounds, and clean/nice neighborhoods to be active and safe in) and better health/healthcare because they have money to afford it. As for the unemployed mother, she is seen as being lower class. Lower class people don’t have as much access to resources and good health/healthcare because they cannot afford it. Lower class people are also more likely to be stressed as compared to upper class people because they have to deal with being unemployed, bills piling up, and living in unsafe neighborhoods etc. Speaking of stress, in the video there is a study done on monkeys to illustrate the effects of stress on the body. One monkey is placed in a happy playful environment with other monkeys. A second monkey is placed in a not so happy isolated environment. The study found that the first monkey had better health status from being a happy environment where he could interact with other monkeys. The second monkey they found to have a terrible health status from being isolated it caused the monkey to have chronic stress. This chronic stress took a toll on his body. His arteries started to thicken. If this monkey would have been left in isolation for longer his arteries would thicken so much that they would eventually be blocked off causing a heart attack. This is also what could happen to the lower class people if under going periods of chronic stress. The biggest determiner of health in the United States is your wealth and what class you belong to. Therefore, according to this video the higher the wealth the better the health.

There are definitely non-genetic factors that explain these health disparities. These are called social determinants of health in the video. For example in this video the class system (one social determinant of health) in America determines your health status. If you are lower class you most likely live in a terrible environment (or in poverty), which is unsafe due to violence, environmental hazards (like living close to factories that pollute the air), and the things you encounter on a daily basis. These all have an effect on our bodies. Mostly these factors cause chronic stress, which can alter our bodies and plummet our health status, like in the monkey study. Another non-genetic factor that can determine health status is educational level (another social determinant of health). The higher your educational level the better your health will be because you will most likely have more access to resources because of your educational level and know more about how to live a healthy lifestyle from being taught it in school.

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