The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world, yet, there are still millions of Americans who live in poverty. To understand poverty, we must first define it. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines poverty simply “as a condition in which a person or group of people lack human needs because they cannot afford them.” It is known that there are many determinants to the effects on health and subsequent poverty. There are many limitations to people of impoverished backgrounds, such as substandard living conditions, un-safe neighborhoods, and lack of a quality education. The majority of impoverished also do not have the access to healthy food options and the correct information on health and how to improve their health and their families’ health. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018).
Poverty’s effects on health have a way of starting way before children even become conscious of it and tend to get worse as the grow up. When children are subjected to toxic environments in and out of their homes, unsuitable nutrition becomes a normal thing. They grow up with gaps in their health-care, if any are provided to begin with; and because of that children in low-income families may never get the proper nutrition and subsequent education, especially when it comes to their health. Poverty and poor health are complexly linked, in the United States. The consequent causes of poor health for the vast population in the United States are embedded in political, and socioeconomic differences. Poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor health. Communities become trapped in poverty because of the poor health of their people. It is a major cause of poor health and a hindrance when it comes to accessing the right kind of health care when needed. The poor cannot afford those things that are needed for good health, and adequate amounts of healthy food and quality health care, that the middle and upper class can. This causes a vicious cycle that many do not get out of. But, poverty is also related to other factors, such as lack of information on the right kinds of health practices to be able to inform their families. Having a language barrier can also be a huge limiting factor when needing help or trying to get in contact with health care practitioners and the availability of information that is only in English and rarely translated to other languages. (National Health Service Corps. 2016)
Dr. James Duffee’s study found:
According to Dr. James Duffee, a pediatrician practicing for more than 20 years, serving mostly low-income children and families, states that poverty is a negative, independent factor that influences lifelong health”. He also says that “Through the science of toxic stress, we understand that early childhood adversity and poverty is a factor that affects not only brain architecture and neurologic and endocrine function, but affects the probability of lifelong illness, including cardiac disease and diabetes.” Next, he states that “if a child is exposed to constant stress in childhood, essentially their stress mechanism is never turned off”, “So it resets at a higher level, a higher heart rate, higher blood pressure.” “Adults living in poverty, among other stresses, are much more likely to have inflammatory diseases”, he says. (Esposito, 2016).
Dr. Bernard Dreyer’s study found:
People are often surprised at the increase in accidents and actual deaths that happen to poor children,” says Dr. Benard Dreyer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “They live in more dangerous environments,” he says. “Their parents are stressed out, often working multiple jobs. They live in poor housing. They live in dangerous neighborhoods where they can be shot or injured.” It’s ironic, when people of poverty are hungrier, yet they are the ones who have the vast majority of health-related concerns, such as obesity. There are many communities that don’t have access to grocery stores that have fresh produce and health conscious foods but are surrounded by fast food restaurants. Majority of these communities are within major metropolitan cities which the majority of impoverished people live. (Esposito, 2016).
In conclusion, a contributing factor would be the limited effect of Government policies. A country of America’s reputation should not have the least levels of poverty. The government has been involved in creating several welfare plans for the poor, but there is much more that can be done against the war of poverty. The government needs to make this a higher priority if any drastic change can be done. There are challenges in reducing the effects of poverty and it definitely will take some years to get rid of or minimize it. With so much information on statistics and why people become and stay impoverished and how it trickles down to their children and so on and so forth, how children become the products of their environments and how health is such a big social and educational determinant for the youth of our nation. That being said there are programs and policies that are available to the impoverished, for example there are programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or food stamps), and WIC and school-lunch programs. Community health centers are improving access to the more lower income families and according to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) website, “nearly 10,000 of these medical, dental, nursing, physician assistant and behavioral and mental health practitioners are providing primary care to millions of medically underserved people.” (National Health Service Corps.,2016)