How Socioeconomic Status Affects Nutrition

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  • 0:01 Socioeconomic Status
  • 1:56 The Physical Environment
  • 3:38 Race
  • 4:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Ricketts

Donna Ricketts is a health educator with 15 years of professional experience designing health and wellness programs for adults and children.

In this lesson, we will take a look at how your socioeconomic status affects your nutritional health. We will look closely at the socioeconomic factors that directly and indirectly affect your nutritional status.

Socioeconomic Status

Did you know that your level of education, what you do for a living and the amount of money you make has a direct impact on your nutrition? Socioeconomic status, which is a measure of an individual's or family's economic and social position based on education, income and occupation, is a strong predictor of how healthy you can be.

Furthermore, socioeconomic factors, such as physical environment and race, can directly and indirectly affect your nutritional status. All of these factors can increase your risk for under-nutrition, weight gain and obesity, which in turn may contribute to the development of some chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

So, let's take a closer look at a couple of people with different socioeconomic statuses. Here we have Carol, a young woman who attended a 4-year college and earned a degree while receiving quality education. She was able to secure stable employment with a good income. She owns her own home and lives in a neighborhood with access to preventive services, such as gyms, walkable streets and healthy food. Where Carol lives and works will enable her to participate in healthy behaviors throughout her life.

Conversely, there is Ana, who was not able to finish high school and is working at a low-paying job. Because of this, she is more likely to have poor health, which is made worse by her physical environment. Let's take a look at two elements that may affect Ana's socioeconomic status.

The Physical Environment

The physical environment, which can be defined as where you live and your workplace, can be conducive to a healthy lifestyle or a barrier. Physical proximity to healthy food choices and preventive services is directly related to socioeconomic status. Because Ana never finished high school, she was not able to secure a stable and well-paying job, which led to her living in poor housing located in an unsafe neighborhood. In contrast, you have Carol, who graduated from college, has a well paying job and lives in a safe and affluent neighborhood. Ana's physical environment lacks access and availability to healthy food, such as grocery stores and farmer's markets, but has direct access to fast food restaurants and liquor stores. Carol's physical environment has two grocery stores: two local produce markets, a weekly farmer's market and no liquor stores or fast food restaurants.

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