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The Role of Demographics on Health: Global Perspective & Influences

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  • 0:01 What Influences Health?
  • 0:50 Health and the World
  • 2:26 Demographics and Health
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will explain to you the many different factors that influence the likelihood or possibility of developing health related problems. Namely, we'll talk about the environment, the world at large, and things like income, gender, and ethnic background.

What Influences Health?

It would be so easy and swell if the only things that really influenced your health were your genes. To a very great extent, the outcome of how healthy you are or not really does depend on your genes. There have been people who have lived past 100 years of age despite being lifelong smokers.

But those people were nothing more than genetic anomalies. Most of us would die much younger if we smoked like that. Therefore, to help understand how other factors influence a person's health, we must turn to certain demographics, or statistics about a given population, such as those that look into age, gender, and ethnic background.

Health and the World

One thing that's important to understand is that the world at large influences our health more so than ever before. It's not about you, your home, or even your city anymore. Things that are happening across the world have an impact on you.

Let's examine some of these possibilities. The dumping of toxic substances into the rivers by factories in places, such as China, poisons your dinner. These toxins flow from the rivers, to the oceans, and then make their way into the food supply, such as the fish you eat. When you eat the fish laced with mercury, it harms your health.

Another way your health can be harmed by events from across the world was brought to light by more than one catastrophe, including the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters. More so in the case of the former than the latter, radioactive material spread across the world. It has been shown that this radioactive material led to everything from birth defects to increases in the rates of cancer.

But toxins and radiation are sometimes the least of your concerns. Dangerous viruses arising more commonly out of Asia and the Middle East can easily spread from country to country when sick people board an airplane and fly on vacation or business.

It's no longer an isolated world, and a disaster or problem in one country impacts the health of countless others around the world.

Demographics and Health

These countless others can be placed into specific groups for statistical purposes to examine the trends of health within a subset of a population. The characteristics of a population we can use include everything from age to ethnic background, as I mentioned in the introduction. Let's see how these groups and the statistical data gathered about them helps us understand health-related trends.

As an example to start off with, we can group people by income. We typically find that people of a lower income are unable to take care of their health as well as those with a higher income and thus suffer from more health-related problems and tend to live less as long on average.

People who have a family history of a certain disease are usually more likely to develop the disease. For example, type 1 diabetes mellitus, a condition that causes elevated levels of blood sugar, is more likely to affect you if it also affects your parent or sibling. Certain cancers, such as breast cancer, follow these types of trends as well. That is why proper monitoring for the development of any disease that may be more likely to occur because of your family history is important to your health.

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