What if your zip code determined how long you would live? It’s not all that far-fetched. Think about it: Poor neighborhoods not only lack access to health care, they also lack access to other resources that impact health and life expectancy. These social determinants of health include income, education, employment, and access to healthy foods and parks and recreation.
When it comes to health we tend to spend most of our time addressing the consequences of our bad health habits, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, but we don’t focus much on addressing the underlying conditions that create them. It’s time we change that.
Dr. Anthony Iton, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities at the California Endowment and former Director and Health Officer of the Alamada County Public Health Department, has been speaking on the topic for the past five years. Says Dr. Iton, “The story of health is not just health care; its people’s opportunity and access to the fruits of life, with health insurance still being one of them.”
Pills and medical treatments cannot be the only ways we address our collective health. By improving our living conditions, we can make the healthy choice a much easier choice. Health isn’t just what you do with your body; it’s also what surrounds you.
Let’s make change where it really matters.
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