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Americans’ Health Factors in “Unnatural Causes” Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Aug 27th, 2020

The film “Unnatural Causes” examines how socioeconomic factors influence people’s health. Utilizing examples from the United States, the series explores the root causes of health variations among people in the United States. Also, the series tries to look for solutions to the inequalities. This paper will answer questions that relate to the series (California Newsreel, 2016).

What did the Whitehall Study reveal about the connection between health and wealth?

The study reveals the link between the economic status of people, and their ability to access health. That is, people’s economic status determines their health. In this regard, the study reveals that one’s ability to access healthcare is determined by his/her ability to pay for the services. Moreover, the quality of healthcare services provided to individuals depends on their financial capability or social status. Moreover, the study reveals that poor people are exposed to more health threats than their rich counterparts are. Specifically, the study reveals that people who belong to the middle to lower classes on the class pyramid are likely to be unhealthy due to their inability to access quality health.

Also, these people are exposed to health hazards due to their exposure to chronic stressors. Moreover, it should be noted that people from the middle to lower classes have limited access to opportunities. Furthermore, these classes of people have inadequate resources that can aid them in changing their destinies. On the other hand, people from middle to higher classes in the pyramid readily access quality healthcare services. Generally, these people live longer than their poor counterparts do because they can easily change their destinies. In essence, it is quite clear that health correlates to wealth. Therefore, more wealth leads to a controlled life, and less wealth leads to an uncontrolled life. That is, people who can control their lives live healthier than those who cannot control their lives (California Newsreel, 2016).

Dr. David Williams says, “Stress helps motivate us. In our society today, everybody experiences stress. The person who has no stress is a person who is dead.” Describe the body’s stress (fight or flight) response. How is chronic stress different? How does stress increase the risk of illness and disease?

Based on the movie, David Williams is correct in his argument because no person lives without stress. However, the movie also shows that people can deal with a certain level of stress. However, when this limit is exceeded, then people are categorized as having stress overload, which is known as chronic stress (McLeod, 2010). The body’s stress fight or flight response produces short-term responses through sympathomedullary pathway (SAM) produces stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which increases the body’s strength (Segal et al., 2016). These hormones make the body more steady, focused, and active depending on the stressor. In this manner, the stress response can contain stress.

Besides, the body can go back to normal once the stress has been contained. However, chronic stress results from repeated stressors leading to the regular stress response. This raises blood pressure as well as suppresses the immune system. It is worth noting that stress activates the body’s stress response. However, when one experiences chronic activation of his or her body’s stress response, the repercussions on the body organs are dire. For instance, the movie shows that chronic activation of the body’s stress response can wear down body organs. It should be remembered that these body organs have specific functions, without which the body system can fail. Over time, the organs can wear down, and expose the individual to increased health risks (California Newsreel, 2016).

Describe examples from the film that illustrates how racism imposes an additional health burden on people of color. Give examples of both “everyday” racism (being treated unfairly) and “structural” racism (access to resources, power, status, and wealth). Describe how these differences affect health in different ways

The film illustrates the fact that past and present racial discriminations in education, housing, and jobs put people of color on the lower-class ladder thereby exposing them to increased health risks. Specifically, the movie shows that racism affects birth outcomes among people of color. The experiences of Kim Anderson, among other people of color show that racism is an everyday stressor. Moreover, the movie gives examples of infant mortality rates among American women. The statistics provided in the film are deplorable; it shows that infant mortality rate for a white American mother is four deaths for every one thousand live births. On the other hand, the infant mortality rate for African American women is twelve deaths for every one thousand live births.

Moreover, it also shows that educated African American women have a higher infant mortality rate than their uneducated white counterparts. Moreover, African Americans have lower birth-weight babies than their white counterparts. Everyday racism constitutes interpersonal racism, which occurs between people based on their beliefs. In this regard, one can offend blacks as primitive. Structural racism constitutes institutional racism. This involves disparity in access to opportunities where people of color find it difficult to get jobs in some institutions. This can be intentional or unintentional based on policies made within an institution. Everyday racism can lead to everyday stress, which affects birth outcomes. On the other hand, structural racism affects the economic state of people of color thereby exposing them to increased health risks. For instance, over 83,000 avertable African American deaths are attributed to the black-white mortality gap (Lawrence & Keleher, 2004).

The movie describes different examples of how policies such as employment, education, and housing all affect health. In your opinion, what kinds of policies need to be created to promote equal access to health? Students will need to have references from current literature to support claims/statements made.

The government should work on creating a social policy that reduces people’s exposure to health risks. Past research has shown that life expectancy in the United States increased in the 20th century by a massive 30 years. This increase is attributed mainly to social reforms. For instance, improved wages shielded people from chronic stress. Improved working conditions also enabled employees to work with reduced stress, which they could manage. Besides, universal schooling was also significant in improving healthcare standards, as well as sanitation. Therefore, I believe that further improvement of social policies would promote equal access to health.

These policies should increase the living wage, and increase paid sick leave. Moreover, the policies should increase paid family leave, as well as grant vacations. Additionally, the government should provide universal preschool and healthcare. Furthermore, the policies should ensure that access to college is guaranteed. These social policies would improve the lives of most Americans. Still, these social policies would reduce the stress burden caused by economic disparity among Americans. Moreover, the policies would bridge the gap created by racism in social circles. The resulting outcome would be an improved society with increased life expectancy (California Newsreel, 2016).

Your group has been asked to participate in public testimony to the MO House of Representatives on Public Health. What would be your group’s Top 3 Public Health Concerns? Discuss your 3 Public Health issues and give evidenced-based documentation to support your answers.

There are several public health concerns. However, the main three health issues are health equity, healthcare-associated infections, and the prevention of chronic diseases. Firstly, health equity is essential in solving vital socio-economic problems that have led to health inequality. Health equity would enable every citizen irrespective of class, race, or religion to access healthcare services (American Public Health Association [APHA], (2016). This would reduce stress levels on people thereby enabling them to live healthy lives due to minimal exposure to health risks. Secondly, healthcare-associated infections have been found to cost unnecessary healthcare costs. Past research has shown that over one million Americans acquire healthcare-associated infections when under medical care (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013). These infections cost the country billions of dollars, which would otherwise be utilized in other programs. Thirdly, the prevention of chronic diseases is a significant health concern in the United States, and the world at large (APHA, 2016). Diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are the leading causes of death in the country. Interestingly, chronic illnesses are preventable. This issue should be considered to help mitigate risk factors that cause them (CDC, 2013).

Reference List

American Public Health Association [APHA]. (2016). Web.

California Newsreel (2016). Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2013). CDC looks ahead: 13 public health issues in 2013. Web.

Lawrence, K., & Keleher, T. (2004). Web.

McLeod, S. (2010). Web.

Segal, J., Smith, M., Segal, R., & Robinson, L. (2016). . Web.

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