Review of Socioeconomic Disparities in Health Behaviors
Preventable behavioral health-risk factors (smoking, obesity, overweight, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise) are the foremost direct causes of disease and avoidable mortality. In this article, the author sought to examine the socioeconomic differences of why low-SES more often act in ways that harm their health than high-SES. Behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use are commonplace in both economic class, so there must be something more to it than that.
Methods that the author used were surveys, observation, and peer reviews from other researchers. Through these methods, exploring for the underlying cause of health behavior is possible and understanding why low-SES are more prone to negative health behavior. The author however, did not do any actually field work but instead wrote the paper using information obtain through other peer review journals and articles. This is a good way to condense together the vast amount of information out there and make it easier to observe all the factors. The methods were appropriate because the author is trying to show relationships between low-SES and unhealthy behaviors in general. The author did employ the selected methods correctly because he focuses mainly on three main categories (“avoidance of tobacco, participation in physical activity, and maintenance of proper weight”). The author tried to pick factors that are not only monetary-dependent; this means that being someone from low-SES does not completely restrict one from making healthier decisions. I did not discover any errors in the way he conducted his research because the author highlighted points that weakened his research and provided more points that strengthened his thesis; the author did not hide any evidence, but provided the reader with a comprehensive view of the situation.
The author provides studies from a variety of sources to prove that people of low SES are unhealthy for reasons other than monetary limitations. The author chose to concentrate on behaviors regarding the “avoidance of tobacco, participation in physical activity, and maintenance of proper weight” because these factors do not directly depend on financial factors. The author strongly points out that “smoking, overeating, and inactivity represent forms of pleasure and relaxation” as opposed to the mere belief that low SES experience high mortality due to only limited monetary means. Due to the high pressures of daily life, people of low SES resort to smoking; these people include unemployed workers and residents in deprived neighborhoods. Thus, stress level is directly related to unhealthy behaviors. There is also a strong correlation between being stressed and being sedentary. Although “smoking or inactivity” can result in relaxation, this is only a short term fix and will only cause more stress in the long term. Nonetheless, this point is weakened by the data that people of low-SES experience more stressors but less “perceived stress” than people of high-SES. It is also weakened by the statement that people of low-SES “report fewer but more severe daily stressors.” This weakens the author’s point that people of low-SES have a higher rate of unhealthy behaviors; if the above statement is true, than people of high-SES should be having more unhealthy behaviors. As the paper progresses, other data is brought in from “economics, epidemiology, and sociology” to strengthen the author’s view. Economists argue that people of low-SES are more concerned about the present time and therefore do not invest in the future, thus developing unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and eating fatty foods. The author provides further evidence by epidemiological and sociological means by expressing how “social conditions among low-SES persons make health behaviors less beneficial.” There is a sense of hopelessness among people of low-SES because they are constantly surrounded by