There are many aspects that affect the health that are social in nature. These include community, family and friends, economy, housing, incomes, lifestyles and habits such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, clothing and education. These factors are collectively known as the social determinants of health. These factors may be influenced positively through programs and policies aimed at improving various social aspects of people living on low incomes. This paper presents a reaction to four videos by focusing on social determinants such as housing, dietary practices and lifestyles, physical activity and community and how the claims made are consistent with research.
The four videos examine social determinant of health which cannot be prescribed by a doctor. According to the videos, doctors cannot prescribe nutritious food, housing or income. However, these components of life are just as important to the health of individuals as those things that may be prescribed by doctors. According to the videos, adults and children living on low incomes are highly likely to have more health problems as compared to adults and children living on high incomes. Overall, there are many aspects that affect the health, that are social in nature. These include community, family and friends, economy, housing, incomes, lifestyles and habits such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, clothing and education. These factors are collectively known as the social determinants of health. This paper provides a reaction to the videos, and suggestions on what should be done to correct the situation on social determinants such as housing, dietary practices and lifestyles, physical activity and community.
The videos are effective in highlighting the plight of people living under low incomes. First, in terms of housing, the videos highlight the fact that housing has an indirect bearing on health outcomes of individuals. This is consistent with the evidence provided by Raphael et al (2003), who indicate that the quality of housing is related to the exposure to stress and environmental conditions which have a direct bearing on health. For example, people living near a factory are highly likely to develop respiratory diseases such as asthma. Poor housing is also associated with high stress levels which have been known to accelerate the progression and severity of diabetes and cancers. Proper policies should be put in place to lower the prices of quality housing to make it affordable (Raphael et al., 2003). Housing policies should also affect the location of houses to avoid exposure to environments that are not conducive to human habitation. The story of Nadia and the molds in her apartment should never recur. The average person may not understand the connection between housing and health or the connection between Nadia’s house and her asthma.
Secondly, as correctly and effectively highlighted in the videos, one’s diet and lifestyle are also major contributors to their health outcomes. Poor dietary practices such as consumption of fatty foods and cholesterol-rich diets have been closely associated with obesity and diabetes. The videos rightly indicate that low incomes may cause poor eating habits and poor nutrition. This may be improved through programs that teach people how to access high quality balanced diets that are not necessarily costly. Alternatively policies that lower the cost of a basic balanced diet should be implemented (Raphael et al., 2012). Lifestyle habits such as level of physical activity and smoking or alcohol consumption have a close relation to health and intervention outcomes as indicated by the videos. According to Raphael et al (2012), consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking aggravate the progression of diseases such as type II diabetes mellitus and cancers. In addition, sedentary lifestyles and inadequate physical activity are associated with obesity and slowed interventions against disease. The average person is likely to know this fact because of the numerous campaigns on this topic in the media. However, it is puzzling that a great number of people still indulge in these lifestyle practices.
Thirdly, the presence of community and family in one’s life has been cited in the videos as important components for good health outcomes. In the story of Nadia, she does not have a close-knit support system in the form of family or friends, which can provide advice and/ or financial support to alleviate her suffering. Friends and family members should advice each other on the negative impacts of poor lifestyle habits such as inadequate physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. They should also provide advice on the nutritious foods that an individual should take. In Nadia’s case, a close-knit support group should advise her against her smoking habit because it not only makes her asthma condition worse but it also slows down intervention efforts that may have been started by her doctors. A support community is also likely to provide her with better housing and suggestion son how she can improve her education levels to get a job opportunity. Getting a job for Nadia implies that she is likely to get better access to healthcare, housing and a high quality diet. The average person is not likely to understand this because many people do not associate health outcomes with the presence of family or supportive community because this message has not been widely circulated in campaigns and is not clearly evidence in programs and policies.
The videos underline the importance of non-prescribed social elements that may have an effect on health. The videos indicate that doctors cannot prescribe nutritious food, housing or income, and this indicates that for positive health outcomes to be achieved throughout the population, there needs to be a discourse on social determinants of health and that this discourse should extend to program and policies. These programs should be done to influence determinants of community, family and friends, economy, housing, incomes, lifestyles and habits such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, clothing and education positively.
Raphael, D., Anstice, S., McGannon, K. R., Rizvi,. S., & Yu, V. (2003). The social determinants of the incidence and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: are we prepared to rethink our questions and redirect our research activities. International Journal of Health, 16(3), 10-19.
Raphael, D., Daiski, I., Pilkington, B., Bryant, T., Dinca-Panaitescu, M., & Dinca-Panaitescu, S. (2012). A Toxic Combination Of Poor Social Policies And Programmes, Unfair Economic Arrangements And Bad Politics: The Experiences Of Poor Canadians With Type 2 Diabetes. Critical Public Health, 22(2), 1-19.