Unnatural Causes: Place Matters

This episode entitled “Place Matters” dove into the environmental determinants of health. Place is a critical determinant of health and can have an incredible impact on one’s health outcomes. Much like what we have discussed in class, there are so many aspects of an environment, some of which are less obvious than others, that affect a person’s health day to day. These can include access to food, walkability in your neighborhood, access to safe place to do physical activity, cleanliness of housing, crime, etc. This episode specifically looked at Richmond, California in which there is a big population of people from Laos and their living conditions are a huge determinant of their health outcomes. A school janitor’s heart was working at a third of what it should be and he has already had a heart attack. Due to the living conditions and chronic stress he is under, his health is at serious risk. He is only one example of the health risks that occur in this town. Many children are hospitalized for intense levels of asthma. Most families spend a majority of their money on a car and rent and therefore do not have the money to spend it on healthy food or other activities. Therefore, for many people in this neighborhood it may not be their fault that they have these bad health outcomes but rather a lack of education and resources around them.

The video brought up the term “poverty tax” which I thought was very interesting. It was a term used to describe increased prices for things in low socioeconomic locations. Things like cars are more expensive in these areas, which to me sounds opposite of what it should be. If people have less money then why are the prices of these goods jacked up? That does not seem fair, but I thought it was an interesting term to bring up.

I also found the hope study to be fascinating. In this study they allowed people of a town to have a say in what changes were going to be made. They gave the people power and hope for a brighter future. Just the mere act of allowing the people to make decisions was able to reduce their number of health problems. I thought this was powerful because it shows what a difference hope and feeling like you matter can have not only on your mental health but also your physical health. I know I personally have been in situations in which I felt like I had no say or power in the situation and just kind of stopped trying in all aspects of life. This can certainly affect one’s health and is something that can be so easily changed in many places. Everyone deserves hope and a voice in their life. This can be seen in High Point. A town in which they turned an unhealthy town into a prosperous town with healthy living, access to outdoor activities, and power for everyone. Everyone in this town was able to come together and make the changes. Instead of an authority coming in and demanding them to change, they were able to decide what would be best for them and this factor alone was hugely important for them and their health outcomes.

My greatest take away from this film was that anything that can be done to impact quality of living and healthy environments will in turn impact one’s health outcomes. Little things like having air filters in the houses, lowering the cost of cars, building a playground/track, or giving people a voice can all contribute to one’s health outcomes in a positive way. I think many people do not associate these factors with health and therefore it is important to educate people of these factors and what an impact they truly can have.

Published by

One thought on “Unnatural Causes: Place Matters

  1. I thought your post was really interesting. You discussed several of the individuals mentioned in the film, such as the janitor from Laos. The video also discussed the barriers faced with people living in poverty in Richmond and California. I thought the personal stories were effective in getting the message across, yet I still feel like watching stories on a television screen does not have the impact as meeting individuals in person. I think it would be incredibly eye-opening and worthwhile to take the time to visit the poverty-stricken areas in Richmond. We basically live in a bubble on the UR campus, and fail to realize that there are people living in poverty just 10-15 minutes down the road.

Comments are closed.