Monday, March 29, 2010

Does poverty make people obese, or is it the other way around? - By Daniel Engber - Slate Magazine

Does poverty make people obese, or is it the other way around? - By Daniel Engber - Slate Magazine

Sociologists describe these patterns in terms of social gradients. The "health-wealth gradient" refers to the fact that, as a general rule, the richer you are, the healthier you are. This applies across different countries and across the full range of social classes within the same country. (It's not just that the very poorest people are sick.) No one knows exactly what causes the health-wealth gradient or why it's so resilient. It may be that rich people have access to better health care. Or, as we've seen, it could be that being sick costs you money. Then there's the possibility that poor people have a greater incentive to behave in unhealthy ways: Since they don't have as much money to spend on happiness, they "spend" their health instead. (The pleasures of smoking and eating, for example, are easy on the wallet and hard on the body.)

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