This past week I attended a session titled “Health is Your Wealth”, a panel discussion about health promotion. Evidence has shown that the greatest determinate of health is wealth, so this topic interested me greatly. Wealthy individuals lead healthier and longer lives. So it makes sense that if you want to live longer and healthier you should seek wealth and be wealthy.
The question is how do we keep our society healthy? Perhaps the question needs to be; how do we ensure all citizens are wealthy? I believe we need to tackle poverty the same way we treat cancer and other chronic diseases. After all, we still don’t have a successful way to prevent these chronic diseases using medical interventions and procedures, why not use social methods? We could have better results in the long run.
More poor people are apt to get diabetes due to poor diet. Too much processed sugar, white bread and junk food is known to lead to pre-diabetic conditions and can make individuals obese and susceptible to type-2 diabetes. Healthy food costs more and therefore represents an inequity for lower income families trying to feed their children and stay healthy. To improve the diets of those susceptible to diabetes and prevent the future cost on the healthcare system you need to finance a healthy diet, provide better education and assist families to make healthy choices.
We must start early to improve the health outcomes of children and families. I come from an immigrant family. As children we knew more than our parents when it came to reading English and so our parents relied on us to read complex documents and contracts. Today many of the government materials are published in many languages which is better for new Canadians. Still it is the children of these new Canadians that are immersed in the new culture and need to be supported. With their new knowledge they can help with their parents’ immersion into the culture. Eliminating poverty could be the biggest health improvements of our diverse society.
Making wealth management and healthy living part of the educational curriculum and reducing poverty will benefit society with lower costs in the future. Families with the ability to pay for services that improve the health of their families who will be less of a burden later. This will eventually lower hospital costs due to mental health and chronic diseases. It is a matter of pay now or pay later. Except that pay later is a lot more costly.
Young people need to be taught the value of wealth and health to live a long and prosperous life. By starting early to educate and improve the perception of wealth and happiness we can improve our overall well being and create a healthy and wealthy society.