Poor people suffer disproportionately from diabetes and overweight

Harold Mandel's picture
Living in poverty
Advertisement

Being poor ranks one of the most horrible and painful circumstances possible in human existence, which is associated with higher rates of serious health conditions such as diabetes and being overweight. The quicksand of poverty makes it almost impossible to be granted equal opportunities in every realm of life, regardless of claims by supporters of equal opportunity laws who say this simply is not true. To make matters worse, poor housing coupled with food insecurity is often associated with serious negative health consequences. This all creates a snowballing downhill socioeconomic drift which makes it next to impossible for the poor to rise up out of poverty and compete effectively in society without a windfall of wealth such as winning a multimillion dollar lottery.

German researchers have observed that regional deprivation is an independent determinant of prevalent type 2 diabetes and obesity at the national level in Germany, reported the journal PLOS One. There has been an increase in evidence that prevention programs for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and obesity should consider individual and regional risk factors. In this research the objective was to make an assessment of the independent association of area level deprivation with T2DM and obesity, while controlling for individual risk factors in a large study which covered all of Germany.

The data collection in this research was based on computer-assisted telephone interviews. The researchers included 33,690 participants in their analyses. It was observed that of all men and women who were living in the most deprived areas, 8.6 percent had T2DM and 16.9 percent were obese. The findings for the least deprived areas were 5.8 percent for T2DM and 13.7 percent for obesity. For women, it was found that higher area level deprivation and lower educational level were both independently associated with higher T2DM and obesity prevalence. In men this association was only found for obesity, but not for T2DM.

It was therefore concluded that area level deprivation is an independent, significant determinant of T2DM and obesity prevalence in Germany. The German researchers suggested that the identification of and targeting of specific area-based risk factors should be considered an essential public health issue which is relevant to increasing the effectiveness of diabetes and obesity prevention.

Advertisement

People who reside in socioeconomically deprived regions are more often affected by type 2 diabetes and obesity, reports the German Research Centre for Environmental Health. The finding that living in a socioeconomically deprived region is a risk factor for being affected by diabetes mellitus and obesity has been found to be true regardless of the individual social status of the inhabitants.

This conclusion was reached by scientists from the Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management (IGM) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) and the Department of Epidemiology and Health Monitoring at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin. Lead author Werner Maier has said, "Regional factors, such as the population's average income, unemployment or quality of the living environment can affect the health of all inhabitants, regardless of the educational level of the individual people."

The geographical influence wherein residents of socioeconomically deprived regions suffer disproportionately from diabetes and overweight is referred to as "regional deprivation". Dr. Andreas Mielck from the HMGU has said, "Our results point out the significance of regional factors in association with common health problems such as diabetes mellitus and obesity in Germany." It is the position of the researchers that area-based risk factors such as material and social deprivation are a significant starting point in order to develop effective region-specific preventive measures.

It is my opinion that this research in Germany has relevance to the United States and other countries. I have often observed a shocking increase in rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity among poor people. The finding in this study that regional factors, such as the population's average income, unemployment or quality of the living environment have an affect on the health of all inhabitants, regardless of the educational level of the individual people, highlights that poverty itself as the primary cause of this problem. A highly educated individual who fully understands the inherent health value of eating more high quality fish such as salmon and fresh fruits and vegetables for their health may simply not be able to afford a diet made up primarily of such healthy food.

The same poor person who understands the vital significance of daily exercise to help prevent type 2 diabetes and overweight who is living in a ghetto in Chicago, or any other ghetto for that matter, may find the risk factors of possibly getting shot or knifed by gangs while taking a walk in the neighborhood are too high to consider actually getting that exercise, as he or she is instead living a life in fear barricaded in a small ghetto room and fighting attacks by dangerous rats. These are realities of a darker but very real side of our societies which must be addressed if we wish to make good health a real possibility for more people.

Share this content.

If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.
Advertisement