Food is Power

Intro to U.S. Health Accessibility and Disparity

“To this day, good health remains inaccessible to many people. A lack of proper education, not having the financial means and simply not having enough time are key factors that prevent many Americans from living healthier lifestyles.”

If someone asked me about the proper health routines to incorporate into their daily life, I would start by suggesting he or she should get an adequate amount of daily exercise and rest, abiding by a sustainable diet plan. Next, I would recommend consulting with healthcare professionals at least once a year and, of course, whenever there may be reason for concern.

It’s a rather simple idea, isn’t it? Prepare each of your meals everyday. Buy all of your groceries organic and minimally processed. Get a gym membership and workout regularly. Push your child to play outside and be active every day. Make sure you and your family have healthcare. But what if you can’t do one or more of these things?

To this day, good health remains inaccessible to many people. A lack of proper education, not having the financial means and simply not having enough time are key factors that prevent many Americans from living healthier lifestyles. These challenges contribute to health disparity, a widespread phenomenon in our country that places certain populations of people at a disadvantage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines health disparities as – preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. These populations can often be defined by income, race, ethnicity, and geography. Health disparity is a result of historical and contemporary imbalances in the distribution of resources.

Consider this. You’re a single parent in an urban neighborhood, and you work a job that pays just above minimum wage. You’re feeding multiple people on a very tight budget and in most scenarios the inexpensive foods are generally not the healthiest options in the grocery store. Your neighborhood is filled with fast food restaurants, corner stores, and overall poor options when it comes to healthy eating. Maybe you received a high school diploma and maybe some college experience, or none at all. You learned in an underfunded and under-resourced school system that doesn’t always provide the most nutritious meals, nor did it educate you on how to make proper decisions in regards to their health. You learned very little about proper dieting, sex, diseases, or exercising unless you participated in sports. Additionally, if you’re a young a student without access to vital daily nutrients then your ability to be focused, learn and retain information, becomes compromised. Healthcare isn’t affordable and the thought of working out doesn’t center itself in your mind since you have other more basic needs that must take priority. These experiences hinder a person’s ability to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

This cycle has existed for generations in many marginalized, underserved communities. Within the last decade, a great deal of political attention has been focused on how to make healthcare more affordable. Meanwhile, social media has now become a new platform for health education. More people are becoming informed and want to make healthier life decisions, but health accessibility remains limited.

We should always be thinking of ways to improve ourselves and the balance of the world around us. It is important to make sure that those in less fortunate circumstances have the resources needed to survive, thrive and give back to society. Healthcare and healthy food must be made available at affordable prices for all. It is essential we find innovative ways of informing people how to nurture and care for themselves, their families and futures. Health disparity does not have to be inevitable.

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GC Content Writer: Makalani Mack