New Report Shows Income Inequality Correlates with Decreasing Health Outcomes

March 7, 2013 at 11:43 am

Americans are in worse health than their peers in other high-income democracies, according to a report released by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.  The report was looking at why, when America pays more for health care than any other nation, do Americans experience shorter life expectancy and increased mortality rates.

While these issues are felt across income and racial lines, they are more pronounced in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.  According to an article published last month in the Journal of American Medical Association, the report found that “Socioeconomic conditions matter greatly to health.  Although the United States is an affluent nation with high aggregate wealth, it also has pronounced income inequality and high rates of relative poverty.”

In fact, the study found that the U.S. increases in poverty and income inequality, including child poverty, have correlated with the worsening of social and health outcomes for the American population overall. While not a clear causal pattern, the report states that these “unsettling trends present a potentially important explanation for the U.S. health disadvantage.”  The report argues that health is connected to larger systematic issues such as social inequality, social mobility, unemployment, built food and physical environments, and patterns of food consumption. While there is not sufficient current research on the impact of these structural factors on health, these issues greatly influence individual behaviors.

Due to the strength of the data and the current detrimental conditions, the report advocates for more innovative policies and public – private partnerships that could impact our physical food and health environments.  This includes  increasing opportunities to give individuals and communities the tools and access to healthy food and living decisions while also improving the  nutritional quality of our food supply.  These issues are just what the Healthy Food Financing Initiative Programs forwarded by the CDFI Fund are tackling now.

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Entry filed under: Economic Development, Healthy Foods. Tags: , , , .

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