I’ve been listening to speeches and the platforms from both political parties for the past several weeks. Health care is talked about often, yet no one talks about poverty. It’s almost as if to say the word, “poverty” is politically incorrect in the discussions that I have heard at these conventions. In the Black Community, poverty is one of the most important risk factors leading to poor health outcomes.
Several studies conducted demonstrate that there are differences in health outcomes and a significant decrease in life span between certain neighborhoods in certain zip codes in the Bay Area. If you live in parts of East and West Oakland, your life expectancy may be as much as 10 years less than the rest of the city. These are the poorest areas of Oakland: but it seems to impact other cities as well.
A recent study conducted by Alan Zonderman of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, tracked data on more than 3,700 black and white, men and women aged 30 to 64. Participants were involved in a major national study on “healthy aging,” conducted between 2004 and 2013.
Investigators found that the risk of dying during the study period was more than twice as high for black men living at incomes — at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level — compared to black men living above the poverty level. This was not true for white men in similar situations.
There are many important issues facing this country and a new set of leaders. Immigration, the economy, community policing, wars against rebel insurgencies all over the globe. But unless we deal with the root cause of poverty here in America and around the world, we will not be successful improving health outcomes in black and poor communities.
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