Place Matters

I did very poorly on the health equity quiz (3/10). While I am glad that this is not a graded assignment, I really appreciated this particular learning experience. It provided me with information about our health care system in the U.S. that I did not think were true. One fact, for example, was that in the past 50 years, the life expectancy for Americans decreased from what it was 50 years ago. I thought our life expectancy would be at least 80 years because we have been pushing to be a healthier society but it is 77 years. Another fact from the quiz that was surprising to me was that the top 1% of American families is richer than the bottom 90% combined. This is crazy to me. I knew that the top 1% had to be better off than nearly everyone under them but I never thought that it would be, basically, everyone combined. That is a big difference and it is very discouraging. There is no reason we should be one of the most industrial and wealthy countries in the world with the most unhealthy people.

The Unnatural Causes video I chose to watch was “Place Matters”. The main idea of the video was to discuss how different neighborhoods and environments can impact your health; what kind of health care you receive, how long you live, and how healthy you are. For example, depending on what neighborhood you live in, you may not have access to a Whole Foods store (or others like it) to make healthier meals leaving you with slightly unhealthier and more affordable food options that are nearby. Also, if you live in a neighborhood where violence and crime are rampant, you can expect to be more stressed; have an increased likelihood of developing injuries or diseases like hypertension, diabetes, or asthma; or die compared to people living in high-income neighborhoods. In the video, they focused on the neighborhoods in Richmond, California. Some areas are stricken with poverty and environmental toxins while others are safe, affluent, and clean. The video discussed how low-income neighborhoods become the way they are because of people and businesses leaving and how this results in no one being left to invest in the schools; and families not wanting to live there because there are no decent schools available. Those who live in high-income neighborhoods have positive social interaction, low housing costs, healthy food options, and safe environments which lead these people to be healthier than their low-income counter parts because they experience less stress, worry and anxiety than their low-income counterparts. People living in these low-income neighborhoods do not want to be there with conditions as they are; however, they cannot afford to leave.

The health disparities among people in low-income areas compared with people in high-income areas are very large and the result of non-genetic factors, namely, environment. Therefore, individuals living in areas with low-housing costs, healthy food options, places to run and play, etc. are usually healthier than people living in low-income neighborhoods. Doctors can help treat people when they are sick but someone can’t truly be cured until something is done about their environment. They lack the proper resources to build and maintain a healthier and safer lifestyle which should be a right of all Americans.



This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Haley Macko says:

    I believe an economic solution is required by the government to improve the underprivileged areas in this case study. I think a solution for improving neighborhoods with limited access to nutritious foods is for the government to advertise and promote more development of whole food stores in impoverished areas. One way this could be accomplished is for the government to implement more economic development incentives. Grants and loans could be made available to stimulate the construction of produce markets or health food stores. Hopefully this would be an effective solution towards the neighborhoods having access to fresh and healthy foods. Additionally, tax incentives and zoning incentives could be offered to encourage more developers to build their businesses and homes in low-income neighborhoods. The increase in businesses being developed would be an added incentive for businesses to remain in impoverished communities, which ultimately affects the investment schools receive. The schools could then implement nutrition programs that educate students how to choose healthy foods and eat nutritiously. Furthermore, access to healthier foods, added businesses and employment and a good school system could entice new families to move into the neighborhood and prevent current families from leaving. By improving poverty and poverty conditions it is highly likely crime rates would decrease making the neighborhood safe for children to play and exercise. Or new influx of businesses could allow for increase in community policing and afterschool recreational programs. The stress felt by impoverished families would be lightened and then maybe diseases like hypertension, diabetes or asthma would be developed less.

Leave a Reply