Social Class And Public Health: Determining Your Health

1380 words - 6 pages

Social hierarchy and conditions within a community has a direct impact on the health and wellness of the people that reside within the boundaries of that city. Major contributors to the welfare of a neighborhood include but are not limited to: the area in which they live, their social standing within the population and the income of the individual or family. Each factor has a severe influence on the life expectancy of the peoples within the society.
The actual living conditions of people directly correlate to the spread of infectious diseases and infestation of chronic illnesses that result in premature death. Crowding, such as in ghettos and low income projects, creates an unnecessary closeness of people in a community. Therefore we see an increase in the spread of infectious diseases because human to human contact is inevitable. For instance, in the US controlled Marshall Islands has a population of over 10,000 people living in an area smaller than Manhattan. Tuberculosis runs rampant there and is often times left unchecked due to the lack of personal space in conjunction with poor sanitary conditions. Poor sanitation in a region is an effect of lack of public interest in the community and subsequently aids in the demise of the health of the population.
The ambiance of a district also sways the wellness of the individuals that reside within the province. It is proven that citizens who have “greener” communities (more parks, grassy areas, trees) are more likely to be healthier and have a greater life expectancy (2). This could stem from a feeling of security which allows for the people of that area engage in exercise more often than people from areas where it is unsafe to walk the streets alone even in the daytime. Lack of recreational facilities and “safe” places for people to relax assist in an escalation of crime and violence.
Violence and gangs in a society produce an extremely stressful atmosphere. Chronic stress is a front-runner for sponsoring cardiovascular diseases and lowering a person’s immunity to common illnesses. When a person is stressed their body releases large amounts of cortisol into the blood stream, and when a person is under stress most of the time, the cortisol starts to create a plaque on the interior walls of veins. This constricts the amount of blood flow through the body and in turn leads to serious conditions such as heart attacks, increased blood pressure and lower immunity.
Although a person’s living conditions greatly affect their health, by the same token their social status determines where on the health gradient they dwell. Unfortunately most of the elements that helped determine social ranking are predetermined; age, race, gender and ethnicity. However there are some components of the social hierarchy that people can control such as level of education.
In American society, although there has been a push racial equality in recent decades, there is still an underlying racial inequality in health....

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