Sunday, October 23, 2011

News Brief: Obesity, Diabetes and Poverty Share a Common Zip Code: Does Your Neighborhood Determine Your Health Outcomes?

MJ Murphy

In a recent large social experiment conducted, researchers concluded that residents of high-poverty areas are more likely to be effected by chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The study, conducted by Jens Ludwig, PhD, of the University of Chicago, found that people who dwell in impoverish areas or less racial separated areas have high body mass indexes than those who live in low poverty areas. The data was collected from three trial groups. One group received vouchers to subsidize relocation costs to a low-poverty area, a second group received vouchers that were not location specific, while the control group received no such vouchers. When the Body Mass Indexes were compared for the female head of households, it was found that the families that were given vouchers to move to a low-poverty area experienced the greatest absolute difference to that of the people living in the high-poverty area. It is unknown how reliable this study may be. It is plagued flaws such as its lack of follow up, baseline health information and randomized testing, because the participants volunteered. It also fails to address what factors are the determinants of the poor health in the impoverished regions. The paper offers lack of poverty and racial separation as correlated factors; however it fails to mention the drivers of the obesity and diabetes, such as healthy food access and density of chain food establishments.

Reference: Fiore, Kristina. "Obesity, Diabetes and Poverty Share a Common Zip Code". MedPage Today. 19 2011. New England Journal of Medicine.
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