Link Between Health and Wealth in South Africa Essay

Submitted By kaitlinsiddiq12
Words: 1035
Pages: 5

To what extent is there a link between income and health?

For some time now, there has been a clear link showing that income and wealth does in fact impact upon a person health. Although the NHS is universal, and therefore everyone will receive its health benefits regardless of their income, this link between health and wealth still exists. Poor housing and a poor diet can be a large contributor to poor health in the lower social classes, as well as the use of alcohol and drugs as a use of escapism. Although we mainly regard the use of alcohol and drunks among the lower social classes it does exist within the middle class, and to a high level.

People in lower social classes are more likely to live in a house with problems such as dampness, poor ventilation, overcrowding, and a lack of heating. These problems can impact a person’s health greatly and especially children. O Shelter estimate that children living in bad housing are twice as likely to suffer from poor health, and children in overcrowded or unfit accommodation are a third more likely to suffer respiratory problems such as asthma – this can also be down to poor ventilation. These statistics from O Shelter show clearly the link between poor health and poor income, thus reinforcing that a person with a low income is more likely to suffer from poor health.

Someone with a poor diet is much more likely to suffer from poor health than someone with a healthy diet, and as is the case with the lower social classes. The lower social classes have the highest consumption of junk food as this is a way of getting maximum calories for minimum prices. Accessing healthy food can be a lot more expensive than junk food, which makes the option of junk food easier for families with a low income. Some poorer families may not have access to a car and so trips to the supermarket can be difficult, which makes a corner shop much more convenient, although they may have to pay between 6% and 13% more for a nutritionally adequate diet from a corner shop, than if they would if they went to a supermarket. This large consumption of junk food means the likelihood of dying from heart disease or cancer is higher as you go down the social classes.

Smoking and drinking is at its highest within the lower social classes. Escapism often explains why people do this to an excess. Stress levels can be extremely high in low income households with the pressure of making end meets. Statistics show that 42% of unskilled workers smoke compared with 15% of professional males, and the highest proportions of people who drink to an excess are in poorer areas such as Manchester and Liverpool. Alcohol allows people to escape their problems and for the short while it lasts they are able to relax and forget about their worries, but this is in no way a long term solution to their problems. Cancer Research UK says that men who were classified as ‘most deprived’ were at a 2.5 times greater risk for lung cancer than those who were least deprived. Most deprived women were at a staggering 2.7 times greater risk for lung cancer – this can be a result of the increasing number of single mothers in deprived areas. Alcohol is not a permanent fix for any problems the lower classes face, and it will also increase their expenses as the price of alcohol and cigarettes is constantly increasing.
Although people that are economically better of can more easily afford better diets, and housing it is unfair to suggest that all poor people have poor lifestyles. Alcohol problems are mainly found among the lower social classes, but it is not to say that they do not exist within the higher social classes, as they themselves also deal with stressful problems. Children within a higher social class family may also face neglect if