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Health Inequalities Essay

3249 words - 13 pages

IntroductionInequalities in health are hard to define due to the complex nature of the term health itself. Many differing explanations of the term health exist, and all are very subjective, depending upon who is defining the term, and to whom it is being aimed at. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines the term as "A complete state of physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html).This definition of health is very idealistic and holistic in nature, though one that Saracci (1997) argues is hard to obtain over a substantial period of time, due to happiness and health experiences being neither fixed nor constant.Rodolfo argues that, although having a serious illness or disease may make a person unhappy, not having a serious illness or disease does not necessarily make a person happy. Taking this argument into context, it is understandable that the term health can often have no bearing whatsoever upon a person's well-being.Just as defining the term health has a very complex nature, defining the term equality suffers the same subjective complexities. What appears to be an inequality to one person may be the opposite of another person's view, dependant upon their social status, age, principles, morals, ethnicity, etc. To obtain equality, everything has to run at a universal baseline, and yet anybody with the briefest insight into politics and evolution itself, will know that this is practically impossible to obtain due to evolutionary disparities. Bearing this in mind, there is no reason why the populous should not strive to achieve this utopia, for any gains in equality will have a resounding effect upon an individual's well-being.The object of this assignment is to pick an inequality in health, and through available research, discuss its determinants, effects upon health and ideological ways of promoting health/equality in health.The inequality that has been chosen is that of obesity. Obesity is very prevalent within society, and one that has a very detrimental effect upon a person's health. It is also deemed an inequality, as the following discussion will highlight, due to the multiple external factors that influence it.Defining Obesity:Obesity is defined by a person's Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is measured by calculating a person's weight by their height in metres squared. The result then gives the BMI, which will give an indication as to whether that person is underweight, desired weight, overweight or obese. The House of Commons Health Committee (2004) observes that it is important to recognise that obesity is both a medical condition and a lifestyle disorder and both factors have to be seen within a context of individual, family and societal functioning.The BMI table (see figure 1) is a universally accepted guide to define if a person is obese or not. (NHS Online (2007) http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleId=850 )(Figure...

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