Dec 23, 2009

Poor Face Greater Health Burden Than Smokers or the Obese

ScienceDaily reports (article here) that according to a study published in the Dec. 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, in the United States those who are poor or are school dropouts face lowered life expectancies comparable to that experienced by smokers.
The average low-income person loses 8.2 years of perfect health, the average high school dropout loses 5.1 years, and the obese lose 4.2 years, according to researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Tobacco control has long been one of the most important public health policies, and rightly so; the average smoker loses 6.6 years of perfect health to their habit. But the nation's huge high school dropout rate and poverty rates are typically not seen as health problems.
The study was conducted by Peter Muennig, Kevin Fiscella, Daniel Tancredi, and Peter Franks and is titled "" The full study is available in PDF form here. (subscription required)

It looked at the individual behaviors and activities of people in advantaged and disadvantaged social groups as well as looking into policy goals directed towards these individuals in the fields of "smoking prevention, increased access to medical care, poverty reduction, and early childhood education".
"While public health policy needs to continue its focus on risky health behaviors and obesity, it should redouble its efforts on non-medical factors, such as high school graduation and poverty reduction programs," according to Peter Muennig, MD, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study.

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