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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 12, 2010

THE HEALTH FACTOR THE HEALTHY FORGET TO WORRY ABOUT: POVERTY

Guardian, UK - The poor not only die sooner, they also spend more of their lives with a disability, an "avoidable difference which is unacceptable and unfair", a government-ordered review into Britain's widening health inequalities said today.

Despite 10 years of the largest public spending increases on health since the creation of the NHS, and rising prosperity levels generally, people in England living in the poorest neighborhoods will, on average, die seven years earlier than others living in the richest parts of Britain, the study finds.

Not only is life expectancy linked to social standing, but so is the time spent in good health: the average difference in "disability-free life expectancy" is now 17 years between those at the top and those at the bottom of the economic ladder, the report says. . .

Health inequality is now so pronounced that in the wealthiest area of London, a ward in Kensington and Chelsea, a man will now have a life expectancy of 88 years. A few miles away in Tottenham Green, north London, one of the capital's poorer wards, male life expectancy is 71 years, a period less than that found in Ecuador, China and Belize, countries all poorer with no national health systems. . .

The report says the conditions in which people are born, live, work and age, shape their health; what is needed is a reduction in the iniquities in power and money that benefit the rich from birth. . . .

It recommends developing standards for a minimum income for healthy living - that is, the lowest amount people can live on to enjoy a long, healthy life. 

THE ECONOMICS OF DIET


CHART SHOWS CHANGE IN MENTIONS OF OBESITY IN BRITISH ARTICLES AND ADS (BLUE & RED) VS. MENTIONS OF POVERTY (YELLOW)

SOCIAL ISSUES RESEARCH CENTER, UK, 2004 - For those directly concerned with stemming the declining health of the population, the middle-class food and health philosophies generated in Westminster seem almost obscenely irrelevant. A local GP, Dr Gerry Spence, for example, comments:

"A lot of people are on benefits, living from week to week, relying on convenience foods and eating out of the chippy. Give people jobs and the ability to be masters of their own destinies and they will make healthy decisions about their lives. You bring employment into here and I guarantee the pubs will empty, the kids will stay at school and the place will flourish. You can't blame the people when they are victims of circumstances. It's not really a medical problem, it's something for the politicians to sort out. I hope the drop in life expectancy is a turning point and the politicians are called to account. They should hang their heads in shame."

Bob Holman, who quit academia to work on projects in socially deprived areas, is similarly unimpressed with current initiatives to combat obesity.

"This is not rocket science. Poor health is a well-known feature of deprivation. Mothers are not daft and they do know fat and crisps are bad for children but they can't afford the alternative. The government has to give them the means. Initiatives are not going to change anything unless you've got the cash in your pocket. If you buy a salad at Sainsbury's, it's still very expensive."

The Observer article is, unfortunately, a rarity. Most journalists and editors seem to prefer to crank up the attacks on soft targets - the unlovable McDonald's or Coca Cola - rather than expose the dirt that has been swept under the carpet of many parts of urban Britain. The data show quite clearly that lower income families and those living in socially deprived neighborhoods are far more at risk from becoming obese than the middle and upper classes. A report from the National Statistics office notes:

"Obesity is linked to social class, being more common among those in the routine or semi-routine occupational groups than the managerial and professional groups. The link is stronger among women. In 2001, 30 per cent of women in routine occupations were classified as obese compared with 16 per cent in higher managerial and professional occupations."


2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another explanation: It's not income inequality, but bad diet and lifestyle choices that poor people make that give them shorter lifespans. Ever stand in the check out line behind someone with an EBT card? Watch what they're buying: Processed junk. Better food is not any more expensive. You don't have to eat expensive 'organic' food to avoid Cap'n Crunch and bacon.

February 13, 2010 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While health is wealth most of our people no good health and it is the reality that they have no wealth to keep health well. To keep good health we also need wealth. Health is wealth? Not always that!

February 15, 2010 3:13 AM  

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