Does wealth determine health? Or does health lead to wealth?
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Does wealth determine health? Or does health lead to wealth?

Sacramento : CA : USA | Apr 04, 2012 at 3:04 PM PDT
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One of the few choices a person has is what he or she will or will not eat. Does wealth determine health? Or does health lead to wealth?

That decision often is determined by income, county and neighborhood. Sacramento and Davis or Auburn/Placer and Sacramento sometimes are like day and night when you look at reports of which residents are healthy and which are less healthy.

The healthiest areas of Northern California, including Sacramento county are listed in an April 4, 2012 article by Cynthia Hubert, "Wealthy counties top the list of California's healthiest." Marin County is healthiest in Northern California according to a new ranking of the healthiest cities in Northern California.

Lower income people don't drink enough clean, filtered water. Instead they choose sweet beverages most of the time. When you eat a certain diet, you often follow the lifestyle of others who eat that diet. How many poor people living in low-income neighborhoods eat the healthiest of foods or can afford to -- unless they're growing their own food?

How many people can afford to eat mostly organic foods? You can check out a helpful video that's free online. But if you're in the digital divide, you may not know how to access the video.

Food matters is an amazing documentary about how the foundation of good health and healing comes from our food not man maid chemicals. We have all that we need if we just look and learn. Check out the full-length documentry, Food Matters: A new way to see food, a video on uTube.

Also see the book, Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. It's an essential nutrition guide for boosting your body's defenses.

Sacramento is ranked as 31 healthiest out of 56 listed N. California counties

Sacramento County is listed as number 31 out of 56 counties when it comes to healthiest counties in Northern California. The healthiest areas in Northern California are in the Bay area, with the exception of Placer County, for example, Auburn. Most of Northern California experiences good health.

The income divide separates healthy from unhealthy just as the digital divide separates those who have quick access to information from those who don't. The big picture is that wealthy means healthy. There are exceptions, though.

The latest report released yesterday, April 3, 2012, is based on a study done by the University of Wisconisin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Number one on the healthiest list is of course, Marin county, which also is located near the ocean and is a wealthy area with high-priced homes for the most part.

People in Marin county usually are well-educated, well-heeled, and have the opportunity to experience feelings of well-being just based on what's nearby from the redwoods of Muir Park to the ocean sunset at nearby Sausalito. The air in Marin county and the air in Sacramento as well as the lifestyle, income, and food eaten are ranked differently.

Sacramento's high rate of sexually-transmitted diseases and premature infant deaths helped pull it down on the list. Sacramento also has the air pollution issue from the heavy traffic and lack of trees closest to where the highest amount of traffic occurs.

One example is the corner of Watt & El Camino Avenues and Marconi and Watt Avenues in Arden Arcade where there are few trees, few sidewalks, and few places to relax. Where are the public parks?

The expensive Country Club golf course is closed to the surrounding lower middle class community of houses with no parks nearby large enough to walk and breathe the oxygen from trees other than Cottage Avenue Park on Howe and Cottage Avenue with few sidewalks and not good enough public transportation, safe trails, or facilities for senior citizens to walk through trails in the daytime or even get there easily on weekends when buses run once an hour on Howe during weekends, and not at all on Cottage Avenue.

The golf course doesn't open even once a year to let people who are not members stroll the grounds for health. And the lack of large parks for hiking in Arden Arcade make it difficult to walk. Where there are sidewalks, usually, it's beside heavy traffic and highly polluted air.

That leaves seniors who walk to have to walk inside shopping malls for exercise. Sacramento is not built for the pedestrian. As walkers cross streets, they can easily be hit in the middle of the street by fast-pedaling bikes turning left into them as they approach the middle of the street.

What's there, however, are houses built next to the heavy traffic along Marconi Avenue between Watt and Fulton Avenues with no sidewalks to stroll for senior citizens and families without cars. Bikes compete with senior citizens for the few inches of space in muddy and wet curbs for walking space between the Town & Country shopping Center and the Country Club shopping center.

What the report looked at

The report ranks counties according to health factors that includes premature death, smoking and drinking, and access to healthy foods and medical care. In California, Marin tops the list of healthiest counties, followed by Santa Clara, San Benito, Placer and San Mateo. Poor people tend to eat frequently at fast-food places and buy food such as chips and soda from convenience stores when supermarkets are not located in poorer areas.

What do the counties have in common? A relatively high mean household income, according to U.S. census figures, according to the Sacramento Bee article.

The five counties ranked as having the poorest health are relatively rural and poorer: Trinity, Del Norte, Siskiyou, Tehama and Lake. Sacramento County ranked 31st of 56 counties. (Two of California's smallest counties were not included in the study because no data were available.)

Does wealth equal health? If you have the greenbacks, you can move to a safe area and buy organic food or learn how to prepare raw vegan foods as variety. You don't have to eat the same burgers and fries or fried dough in different forms day after day.

You don't have to get addicted to the same foods that stimulate the brain to cravings for those foods such as sugar, chocolate, cheese, meat, and dairy. People who live in expensive neighborhoods have health insurance and take time to exercise or walk more often.

Wealthy people smoke less, with some exceptions of the newly rich who grew up in families that were poor where smoking became a habit based on associating with family members or friends who smoked as a group.

Wealthier people generally smoke less. There are some exceptions with chain smokers who can afford cigarettes frequently, but overall wealth equals health if you subtract the genetic variations in some wealthy people for cancer, stroke, or heart disease that could have been changed in some cases if the wealthy people followed healthier diets.

An example would be a wealthy person's preference for fatty foods which changes only after a bypass operation when the wealthy person becomes vegan, for example, after the age of 60. You see that change to healthier diets in celebrities and politicians in the news.

Some areas of the country with very low incomes still have excellent health because of close ties to family and ethnic foods that are healthy and also cheap.

An example would be close-knit Mexican American families with low incomes in small Texas towns eating vegetables grown in yards and foods that don't rot teeth and cause fat buildup.

The report accessed information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Education and the census, is a portrait of public health by ranking areas of the country according to how healthy the community looks on paper. The idea is to get to the underserved areas.

That's why so many D.O. medical schools are opening in areas of the country to recruit those who will practice medicine in underserved areas.

Rankings can motivate health changes

By ranking a county in any given state, the city is then motivated to build sidewalks and bike paths so that bikers and walkers aren't competing for the tiny strip of sidewalk or curb like you see in Sacramento where seniors are tired of being hit by bikes tailgating them on narrow pedestrian sidewalks because the bikers won't stay in the bike lanes.

Cities that are ranked can launch anti-smoking programs and farmers markets or even camps for kids to teach health education to the low-income community.

The high-income community also needs health education tips as well because of the high levels of addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol which take money to purchase.

Farmer's markets are easier to organize than getting a city to spend money building sidewalks so seniors can walk to shopping when the bus isn't running.

Culture of health is needed in Sacramento

What Sacrament needs is to develop a culture of health that doesn't require a huge income to incorporate into someone's lifestyle. Davis, for example has a healthier lifestyle than Sacramento, but Davis has more trees and less traffic, and more emphasis on healthier foods. Davis also is strongly influenced by the university and a senior center that teaches lifelong learning classes.

Davis which is in Yolo County finished seventh-healthiest among the 56 counties studied in California. Davis residents live in houses that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. They smoke less and have fewer premature infants.

There are not as many uninsured people in Davis compared to Sacramento. It costs more money to live in Davis than in Sacramento. The downtown area is walking distance to the university where cultural attractions include lectures on health topics. There are fewer obese people in Davis than in Sacramento. Farmer's markets are accessible by bus or walking.

Sacramento County, by contrast, has a higher rate of premature death, more smokers and a higher rate of obesity than the state overall. Some of Sacramento County's statistics may be skewed by unusually high rates of infant mortality and sexually transmitted disease.

When you rank Sacramento the health problems correlate to specific zip codes that reveal low-income areas. Public health research may be able to develop solutions to the problem of health issues in lower income areas of the city.

See the Survey

Check out: Survey finds poor diet, lack of exercise are greatest health risks to California children. California Counties' Public Health Rankings from County Health Rankings.org

For a complete list of public health rankings of more than 3,000 counties across America, go to the County Health Rankings.org website.
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Does wealth determine health? Or does health lead to wealth?
AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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