More Money, Better Health?

by MomGrind

money-on-plate Money and health are very much connected. Research shows that socioeconomic status has a profound influence on health. Obviously, good genes and good habits, such as eating right and exercising, matter.

But according to research, other factors that influence a person’s health are her income, job title, education, address and race. So, even if you don’t smoke, but you live in a shady neighborhood with lots of fast food and no supermarkets, that would adversely affect your health.

In other words: rich people are healthier.

An overview of some of the factors that connect money and health and make rich people healthier:

Race

In the United States, health disparities, defined as gaps in the quality of health and health care across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, are well documented in minority populations such as African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos. When compared to whites, these minority groups have higher incidence of chronic diseases, higher mortality, and poorer health outcomes.

Health insurance

Wealthy people’s health concerns match those of the general population. The biggest worry cited by those with over $1 million in assets: accidents, followed by cancer and heart disease. But the rich can afford good health insurance and preventative care. In many cases, money means longevity.

Obesity

New research at the University of Washington showed a correlation between financial power and obesity level: those inhabiting chic neighborhoods with high property values are less prone to obesity than those living in under-privileged zones.

Financial Stress

Stress is a condition that results when an individual perceives a discrepancy, whether real or not, between the demands of a situation and her own resources. There is a strong link between stress and health.

In a review of the scientific literature on the relationship between stress and four well-known diseases, the authors found that stress plays a role in triggering or worsening depression and cardiovascular disease and in speeding the progression of HIV/AIDS, and commented that additional studies across a broader range of cancers are needed before fairly evaluating the role of stress in cancer.

If you have little control over your work life; if you are constantly worried about money, housing and safety; and if, on top of it all, you live with the lifelong stress of racial discrimination, your health will suffer.

Obviously, rich people stress too. But it is often not the overwhelming, all-consuming stress of people with less money. Stressing over losing money in the stock market is very different than stressing over the possibility of foreclosure or not being able to buy groceries or pay the bills.

The tight connection between money and health, and the phenomenon of health inequality, are not new. But with a looming recession, researchers worry that the health of our nation as a whole will suffer.

Photo by wai.ti

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