W2 Activity: Place Matters

First of all, I did better than I expected on the health equity quiz. I got a 7 out of 10. One of the questions I got wrong asked about who is the healthiest group of people in the US and based on the previous questions and answers, and from my own common knowledge, I chose non-Hispanic whites, but the answer was actually recent Latino immigrants. I found that to be very interesting, especially since they come from a poor environment and after living in the United States for only a few years, they began developing more diseases. Another question I got wrong asked about the wage differences between the richest and poorest of people living in the US and I found it surprising and sad that the top 1% of wealthy people have more money than the bottom 90% of people combined. That’s very unfortunate, but shows how realistic the gap is between the wealthy and poor. Then, from our lecture material and the quiz answers, we know that those with less money usually have more health concerns, but we also seen that in other parts of the world, thats not always the case.

As mentioned in the prompt, we often associate developed and urbanization communities with having better health statuses. However, as seen in the quiz, that is not always true. For example, one of the statistics say that the Unites States is the 2nd most wealthiest country in the world, yet we are ranked in29th place for life expectancy. You would think with the technology and advancements that we have, we would be living longer and more healthy lives. The problem comes when there are huge gaps in socioeconomic status. This is when the wealthy carry a majority of a communities income, and resources are limited in poorer communities. In US, the single most important predictor of health is wealth. Power and resources help regulate health status. Those on bottom of socioeconomic pyramid have little to no control over frequent heath threats which in turn increases the risk of chronic disease in these communities.

For this weeks assignment, I chose to analyze the Unnatural Causes 5: “Place Matters.” I chose this video because I feel like it could easily tie into our topic for the week “Ecological and Biological Approaches” and with my Reflection post about African-Americans living in the south have the highest prevalence of hypertension. The video asks an interesting question, “Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” Based on what I have learned and read so far, I do feel as if inequality is contributing to illness. Place matters because where a person spends most of their time, or their living environment, is associated with exposure. Where a person lives is a strong indicator of their health. There is a nearly a 15 yr gap in life expectancy between counties in the US regarding the wealthier, vs poorer counties.  If a person lives in a dangerous, poor social, low economic, or polluted community, then their risk of developing disease is higher than those living in the opposing environments. The healthcare workers in the video basically said that in low income and problem communities, they see more illness such as asthma, and hospitalizations from illnesses that aren’t necessarily genetic. Many of which develop due to environmental stressors, such as the heart disease the man from Laos had even though he did not smoke or have history of family heart disease. As I mentioned in my reflection post about the diets of southern African-Americans being a problem deeper than personal behaviors, but based on social norms, a physician in the Unnatural Causes 5 video made another interesting and relatable point: people often think that to improve health, we must focus on individual behavior changes, however behavior changes are not always within possible reach since these choices can be limited by environmental factors. I found it interesting that the video mentioned that in poverty areas, things such as cars, food, homes, even cashing a check, cost more than wealthier communities. This makes no sense. I almost feel like people living in poverty are trapped there on purpose by the government. Whites living in big cities have more natural environments. This means cleaner air, room to exercise and play, higher property values and increased desire to live in these communities. Black and latino neighborhoods have more fast food chains and liquor stores and lack adorable fruits and veggies. This type of environment causes illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma that would not necessarily always be genetic in this type of situation.

2 thoughts on “W2 Activity: Place Matters

  1. Hey Jessica! I definitely agree with you that in the United States, your health is determined by how wealthy you are or can at least contributes to your health. Having first hand experience of moving out of my parents house and having to buy my own groceries, while trying to eat and buy healthy foods, is tough. Produce in generally more expensive and you can’t always make it stay fresh longer than a week. Also, other than food there is physical exercise, some people can’t afford gym memberships either, leading them to developing type 2 diabetes.
    I have always thought that people could easily change their individual behavior and attitude towards being healthier, but that isn’t always the case; rather it’s where you are living. While I was reading this post I was thinking to myself how true that is! I think that there is only things you can do so much, until you can’t go any further without assistance and like you said, it’s like they’re trapped. Although, some people have worked so entirely hard to get out of poverty.
    Really if inequality is making us sick then the obvious solution would be to attempt to eliminate inequality. The ideas that would fall under this would be more political because I would assume they would would have something to do with more government assistance or more non-profit organizations. Therefore, the government and locals would have to get involved.

  2. Hi Jessica,

    My results on the Health Equity Quiz weren’t as well as yours as some of the numbers were truthfully very shocking to me. Based on these numbers I too believe that a very real socioeconomic factor exists in health disparities across the nation. Just as you pointed out how rich the United States may be, the fact that we rank so lowly on things such as life expectancy is very disappointing. As well, our healthcare is extremely expensive and harder to access than many different countries, such as our neighbors from the north, Canada. I believe this is not because we have a truly apathetic Government but with how our Government is structured, specifically our Legislature, many conflicting ideologies come up that can hinder health legislation. An example of this is how hard it has been to pass Obama’s Healthcare program from when he was elected to now. I think as you said that economic differences really do have an effect on the health of the poor and the Laotian man with the heart issues in Richmond perfectly illustrates but just asking for a fairer dispersion of money is not a plausible solution in our Capitalist economic system. The solution that I can only see realistically having an effect is to be interdisciplinary; fund health education early in school and create healthier lifestyle opportunities such as parks and other resources through legislation and fight for more nutritionally sound food production through the legal system. Doctors and other health professionals need to really for front this change through Interest Group influences and any other ways they can reach through the government. One profession can only make so many change but combining different talents is the best to make the greatest progress.

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