Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3 Weeks in London: Health Determinants

 Individual heath determinants are all around us, in everything we do, every day. Right when we're born we already have things weighing against us--our genes and environment. As we grow up, our behaviors weigh into our health, too. This includes our attitude, beliefs, and actions. Even the kind of job you have as an adult can determine your health. For example, men that are at high positions in a company will have a MUCH healthier and stress-free life than the janitors of the company. Why? Because the less control you have over your own job, the more stressful it is! I like to say that my job is stressful because I work with crazy kids, but in reality, I have a LOT of say with what we can and can't do, and the stress doesn't come from the job, but the kids.
 One day while we were heading to class, the station for the underground train that we usually use was flooded, which meant no trains. Thankfully, we had a transit card that let us ride any transit. This includes the trains as well as the busses. So, instead of freaking out about not being able to take our usual train, we hopped on the next bus that was going the way we needed to go, and that was that! On another occasion, we were all going out of town to Windsor for the whole day, and when we went to the Underground station I realized that I didn't have my transit card on me. Instead of going back to where we were staying, because we were already late, I just went ahead and bought a day use card from the station. Both of these examples could have brought me a lot of stress, but because I didn't grow up having chronic stressors in my life, they were simply just minor hassles that I could easily get over.

 Something I think a lot of us take for grated is how easy it is to get around in our neighborhoods. Now that I've lived in Corvallis for a few years, I know that if I ever needed to get somewhere, I could walk, drive, ride my bike, or take the bus. Unfortunately for a lot of people, that isn't the case. In some neighborhoods it's close to impossible to feel safe, and walking around by yourself isn't something that people think of doing.

In London, they have two things to help with getting around without a car. One of the things they have all over the city is bike racks with bikes that you can rent, right then and there. Not only does this let people travel easier around town if they don't have a car, but it also increases exercise.
The other thing that they have are these notices in crossing areas. Most places in London pedestrians don't have the right-of-way, and driver get very upset if you're in their way. They also drive on the "wrong" side of the street there, and to help pedestrians to remember (and not get hit by a car) the city has pained "Look Right" and "Look Left" all over the streets. Whether they were think of this or not, the city has greatly increased the overall health of the people in their city by posting these reminders. 
 Another thing that's very popular in London is smoking. Of course, everyone knows that smoking is bad, and that tobacco is the leading cause of death worldwide, but did you know that there is a thing called "third hand" smoke? Third hand smoke is when you come in contact with items that have been contaminated by tobacco smoke, so clothes, cars, and furniture that have been around a smoker are now considered things that can also be harmful for you.
There are many other drugs that can be harmful for you and, and the biggest one is alcohol. Everyone has their own blood alcohol content that is considered "safe" for them, meaning that everyone can drink so much and still be under the legal limit. If someone goes over their limit and decides to drive, they are putting many more people than themselves at risk.
Did you know that going to college increases your lifespan? The more education you receive, the higher your chances of living to an old age become. But just because you did four to eight years of secondary schooling, doesn't mean that you will outlive your less educated counterparts. Some people need to take more medicines than others, be in for a condition, or just for pain. It's important to always know how you are supposed to take medicines, so you can protect your body. For example, taking pain killers without eating food can be very harmful to your organs, and can wear them down greatly over time. Also, taking antibiotics too often can also be detrimental to your health. 

Having kids is a big decision to make, and the fact that the women in poor countries seem to have little say in the matter makes it very stressful. Here in the United States, and as well as other wealthy countries, our ability to decide when (and where) we have babies greatly decreases out overall stress, and helps us to determine when the safest time is. Because most women wait until later in life to have kids, their bodies are fully developed and able to carry, and they are also able to make sure that they are financially able to care for their child once it is born.

A personal health detriment that I am very passionate about is nutrition. There are many places around the United Staes where people lack proper nutrition. There are also some cases where people just don't have much food available to them. In either case, the lack of proper nutrition can cause many health disparities. It can stunt growth, impede neurological development, and can cause stress within families. One of the most important things we can do is make sure that me provide food to children. In many places in Oregon and around the country there are reduced and free lunch programs that help to feed our nations youth. Without programs like this, children are less likely to succeed in school, and are more likely to be under chronic stress.

Lastly, LGBT individuals have been climbing a slow uphill battle for basic rights that are already available to most of the population. In many states, the legislation has already been passed to allow people of the LGBT community to get married, and in a few states, transgendered individuals are being allowed to use whichever bathroom they see fit within public settings regardless of where they are in their transition. Something that is important, and obvious for most people, is that people of the LGBT community are people. They are under attack now just like African Americans were back in the times of slavery. When future generations look back at what's going on now, they will look back with the same eyes that we are currently looking at the slavery years with. All people deserve the same rights and respect no matter what.

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