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06 November 2006

Posh suburbs kill the poor

Poor people who happen to live in well-to-do neighbourhoods actually have a greater death risk than if they lived in less affluent locales, new research suggests.

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Poor people who happen to live in well-to-do neighbourhoods actually have a greater death risk than if they lived in less affluent locales, new research suggests.

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine tracked 8 200 people living in 82 neighbourhoods in Monterey, Modesto, Salinas and San Luis Obispo, California, for 17 years.

They found that 19 out of every 1 000 women of low socioeconomic status who lived in wealthier neighbourhoods had died, compared with 11 out of every 1 000 women from poorer neighbourhoods.

The rates were similar for men.

Age and factors such as obesity, hypertension and smoking did not explain the results, the researchers said. Nor did access to neighbourhood goods and services, such as health care, grocery stores, parks and gyms.

Two possible explanations
There are two possible explanations, according to the study authors. One is economic: the cost of living in an affluent neighbourhood may leave poor people with little disposable income to spend on essential goods and services, such as health care and healthy food, and less time to take advantage of the benefits of living in such a neighbourhood.

It's also possible that, due to their social position compared to those around them, poorer people in affluent neighbourhoods suffer psychological and social stress, which can have an impact on health.

The researchers said the findings suggest that poor people who live in affluent neighbourhoods may be medically underserved and require more targeted health services and attention by policy makers.

The study appears in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health. – (HealthDayNews)

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November 2006

 
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