Health and Fitness

Health Determinants

This past weekend I attended and Aultman hospital leadership summit. There was a great speaker there who spoke of determinants of health. Much of what he said, goes against what we think is needed to actually improve the health of a population.

Another Democratic primary debate was held last week. If you listen to them, it would appear that all we need is to spend more money on the medical system and we will achieve better outcomes. They advocate universal healthcare or Medicare for all. “If only everyone had health insurance, we would all be much healthier”. They say.

Interesting, this may not be true. The medical contribution to the health of the population is actually much less than you would expect. It in fact, only makes up about 1/5 of the overall determinants of health.

If you want to find the answer to why our life expectancy is decreasing, look beyond the healthcare system. The health of the individual will be found in the health of families and communities.

To truly move the needle with regards to health of the population, it is essential that we improve social support networks and social environments. We need to improve the physical environments in which we live and make them healthier, safer and more pedestrian friendly. We need to have healthy, nutrient rich foods available. And we need to work as a society to ensure equitable employment. No matter what our occupation or social status, we can all make a difference and improve the health of our society.

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