Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice: Eliminating Health Disparities
April 24, 2012
by Jeff Levi
Chronic diseases -- such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes -- are responsible for seven out of 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75 percent of the nation's health spending. Obesity alone is related to more than 30 illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Unfortunately, disadvantaged communities are at higher risk for a multitude of preventable health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis B and C, and infant mortality. These devastating health disparities compromise the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
In fact, black children are four times as likely to die from asthma as non-Hispanic white children, and Hispanics are 1.6 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to die of diabetes. Health disparities are intricately linked with social inequalities based on a variety of factors, including race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and gender identity, gender, age, disability, geography, and religion. In order to improve the health of vulnerable communities, we must create and leverage opportunities to address the social determinants of health and promote health equity.
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