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Poor face greater health burden than smokers or the obese
Date:12/22/2009

d such policy goals as smoking prevention, increased access to medical care, poverty reduction, and early childhood education to provide policymakers with a sense of how different policy priorities might influence population health.

Building on prior research, the researchers examined health disparities resulting from an individual's membership in a socially identifiable and disadvantaged group compared with membership in a non-disadvantaged counterpart. Although public health policy has always been directed at individual social and behavioral risks, until now there had been little systematic investigation of their relative contribution to U.S. population health. The researchers were not able to capture all population health risks. For instance, they did not include an analysis of transportation policy, which can affect health through reduced accidents, reduced pollution, and increased exercise.

"The smaller impact of schooling in our analyses probably had a lot to do with the fact that we are only measuring the health of people in the general population. We miss those in prisons and chronic care facilities, most of whom lack a high school diploma. If we captured these individuals, the numbers would be higher.

"As with other burden of disease studies, the policies we identify will not eliminate the risk factor in the population; our estimates can only serve as guideposts for policymakers," says Dr. Muennig.


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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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