Tag Archives: public health

(512) Wrecked in the sprawl [Study]

Fun with carsSitting thinking about physical health and the general quality of life in the sprawl and what do we come across on Fast Company’s site but this article with its catchy title.  The links in it take you through to a University of Utah study associating denser metropolitan areas with higher rates of personal well-being and success.

Urban sprawl: get fat, stay poor, and die in car crashes. A new report on metro density says it straight: quality of life improves in compact cities.

(511) OCFP primary care interventions into poverty

Poverty MonsterPotentially powerful stuff from the Ontario College of Family Physicians: a tool for approaching poverty like any other health-wrecking phenomenon such as smoking or an infectious microorganism.  Only neoplasms (tumours) take away more person years of life here than poverty does.  Let’s hope this resource is widely adopted and reinforces a cultural change in the way we consider poverty and health.

Poverty Intervention Resources ocfp.on.ca

image: CBS Television via Wikimedia Commons

(507) More science of poverty

Human DNAWhat does genetic damage to a human being?  Radiation?  Yes, and we’ve known that for a while.  Pollution?  Yes, pretty much proven.  Poverty?  Yes as well.

An American research effort called the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study has published results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week that indicate higher stress environments weaken a protective DNA element called a telomere.  This element prevents the end of each human chromosome from fraying over time.  Stress, like that induced by poverty in childhood reduces the intergrity of our chromosomes and leaves us open to mental and physical ill health later in life.

Stress alters children’s genomes. Poverty and unstable family environments shorten chromosome-protecting telomeres in nine-year-olds
Scientific American

See also: (372) Studies indicate poverty impairs cognitive ability

(490) Atlanta’s food deserts

Breakfast cerealHit by ice storms, high winds and heavy snow this winter Atlanta was seen to nearly grind to a halt at times.  The exceptional weather highlighted some worrisome things about life in that massively sprawled southern city: indicators of human risk built right into the general living arrangements there.  Low density, car-centric living in Atlanta doesn’t function particularly well for the poor on a sunny day.  Add in northern winter conditions and things get ugly.  Weak choices that overemphasize fast food and long treks for food in extreme weather are commonplace for low income Atlantans year round.  As the bad weather recedes the underlying vulnerability doesn’t and extremes of heat are also difficult.  A huge component of vulnerability year round is the area’s food deserts which are the subject of the Guardian piece linked below (which appears also in Atlanta Magazine).

Atlanta’s food deserts leave its poorest citizens stranded and struggling. It seems unthinkable but in a major US city, thousands cannot get to places where fresh, affordable food is available Guardian

The day we lost Atlanta. How 2 lousy inches of snow paralyzed a metro area of 6 million
Politico provided an excellent and widely read feature on the effect of January’s Icepocalypse on Atlanta’s vast sprawl

See also: (421) Let it snow

image: breakfast cereal by Zanastardust via Wikimedia Commons

(472) Kids, poverty & mental health in Hamilton, ON [Five-part CBC series]

HamiltonA five-part, in depth look at children, poverty and mental health in Hamilton, Ontario is underway at cbc.ca.  If the first segment is anything to go by this will be an impressive piece of feature journalism on a very important topic.  Even moderate exposure to poverty has implications for community mental health because of its effect on childhood development.  Hamilton’s children will be the first generation to grow up there as citizens of a fully post industrial community.  Where those children go so goes Hamilton.  A picture of the conditions and issues faced by Hamilton’s children is assembled by Denise Davey based upon key statistics and time spent with families.  Some of the best cared for of children are found in Hamilton but even newer neighbourhoods “up the mountain” as Hamiltonians say, are home to children in problematic situations.

Kids, poverty and mental health: Hamilton fights back

(469) Collective bargaining & poverty

Valentines DayIf you love someone surprise them with a good, unionized job instead of some artery-clogging chocolates this Valentine’s Day.  Why?  Because OECD data seems to indicate the greater the part of the population covered by collective bargaining the better the health of that population through reduced poverty.  Canadian labour economist Jim Stanford considers the matter in this piece from rabble.ca.

Evidence shows: Unions and collective bargaining reduce poverty

(468) Heroin?

HeroinA twenty minute segment on Huffington Post last fall discussed a trend in the US mainstream media to attach heroin to the emergence of suburban poverty.  It is said that a shift from prescription pain killer use and abuse to heroin consumption is under way.  The horrors of 1970s New York City were invoked.  Detroit cited.  Fear suggested and dismissed in turns.

The segment mixes HuffPo’s amateur style with the traditional alarmism of mainstream media leaving the viewer with mixed feelings as to the reality behind the segment.  Even though it is of laughable quality, disorganized and glitch-containing there is a discussion of suburban poverty here so the segment is the subject of this posting.  Take it only as a possible starting point on the matter.  A relationship between a rapid rise in poverty and a rapid rise in the use of heroin might make some intuitive sense but in this rich topic area the truth is not always straightforward.

How does the economy affect the heroin trade?

image: Wikimedia Commons

(459) Food insecurity in Canada [Report]

Canada Food Insecurity 2012Just released is a high level report on food insecurity in Canadian households and what the best policies might be for doing something about it.  Data for the report is for 2012 and includes this fact: “four million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, lived in households that struggled to afford the food they needed.”  The report, from an international and interdisciplinary team, points out that the majority of food insecure people and families are working.

PROOF: research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity
Links to full report in English or French

Household food insecurity in Canada 2012

(429) HPAP statement for $14/hr minimum wage in Ontario

Health Providers Against PovertyWe give doctors and nurses a kind of power.  We are encouraged to respect them and listen when they tell us what is good or bad for us.  The individual told to quit smoking or start exercising by their physician and who then doesn’t bother is seen as unwise.  So when health providers suggest we do something on behalf of our quality of life at a societal level we ought to give that advice the most serious level of attention we can.  The impact of low income on human health was the subject of a Health Providers Against Poverty press conference at Queen’s Park yesterday.  How can anyone in good conscience argue back on this file?  There is a clear and long established link between poverty and ill health.

Raise Ontario’s Minimum Wage To $14
HPAP press release


(399) I’m hungry: can you loan me two grand? [BMJ Study]

Fruit & VegThe British Medical Journal looked at food costs and the diet/public health relationship in ten countries recently.  They confirmed that it costs individuals more to eat fresher, healthier foods but that not making better diets part of public health policy will have high social costs.  For a Canadian family the household budget requires an extra two thousand dollars a year to stay off a less healthy diet.  With over 1300 comments and several thousand “shares” in just a couple of days CBC online coverage of the report seems to have struck a note with Canadians.

Healthy eating adds $2K a year to family grocery bill. Lowering price of nutritious foods should be a public health goal, researchers say cbc.ca

See also: (355) Meal break with Jack Monroe

image: Van Tol Retail via Wikimedia Commons