Thursday, May 26, 2011

Causes of Health Disparities

The causes of health disparities in a community can encompass a range of factors which contribute to differences in the ability for all members of that community to gain equitable access to the resources that contribute to a healthy life. These factors range from disparities in education, income, access to jobs, adequate housing, healthy food and physical infrastructure that supports healthy and active lifestyles.

Research suggests that low-income households and minority populations are more likely to be at risk for health problems related to a lack of physical activity than the population at large. Recent national research identifies a significant association between race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status and lack of access to physical infrastructure such as sidewalks, bike paths, sports areas, parks and public pools. Furthermore, these individuals are less likely to be able to afford or access alternative forms of recreational facilities.

The absence of food options and the lack of access to grocery stores, which disproportionally affects minority populations, is well documented and is addressed in the following section on Food Access. Safety concerns in minority and low-income neighborhoods, which can have a negative impact on the heath of the residents of these neighborhoods, is addressed in the section on Safety and Security.

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