While many of us think of poverty as being an issue that affects those overseas, it’s something that’s closer to your doorstep than you may initially think. The number of those in poverty has only been exacerbated by the global cost-of-living crisis. In fact, in 2021, the poverty rate in America was 11.6%, which meant that as many as 37.9 million people were living in poverty. When considering the current circumstances, we can assume that this figure has only grown in the last two years.
Poverty can affect a person in a number of ways; however, it has a really significant impact on one’s health. As a result, there are a number of grant management companies out there that work to distribute funding to those who need it most. To that avail, detailed below are just some of the ways that poverty affects health.
Limited Education and Health Literacy
Firstly, poverty can stand in the way of a person getting a quality education, which can be detrimental to their health literacy. In the absence of this health literacy, it becomes increasingly difficult to make informed decisions about well-being and employ preventative measures to help protect health. Ultimately, limited understanding and knowledge can mean that poor health outcomes present themselves again and again for the most impoverished members of society.
Environmental Health Hazards
Unfortunately, those experiencing poverty are often forced to live in overcrowded and substandard housing, which can result in a number of environmental health hazards. For instance, these environments are more vulnerable to toxin exposure, air pollution, a lack of clean water, inadequate sanitation, and so much more. Consequently, the risk of infectious diseases is also significantly increased, including respiratory ailments. There are some clear health disparities in disadvantaged communities, and the environment is clearly an affecting factor of such.
ental Health Challenges
Naturally, poverty takes its toll on mental well-being. Individuals are forced to worry about social exclusion, financial instability, and other struggles that stem from poverty. This leads to feelings of depression, anxiety, and chronic stress, and mental health services are hardly affordable either. This is without mentioning the vicious cycle of poor mental and physical health, wherein you’re feeling down due to a lack of exercise, but you don’t have the motivation to exercise because you’re so down. When left untreated, mental health problems can have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life, making it even more difficult to escape the cycle of poverty.
Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases
Respiratory conditions, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes are all more likely to occur for those in poverty. This is predominantly down to poor living conditions, increased stress levels, and poor diets. Similarly, the lack of resources to detect illnesses early means that the consequences of chronic illnesses tend to be negative.
Food Insecurity and Malnutrition
An absence of nutrition is a significant complication that’s caused by poverty. This is because fresh, quality foods tend to be more expensive than frozen, processed goods. As a result, those in poverty don’t often have regular access to nutritious food. This leads to malnutrition, as the body isn’t able to obtain the essential nutrients it needs to fight off illnesses. What’s more, malnutrition is particularly detrimental for children, as it hinders their cognitive and physical development, which can affect them in a long-term capacity.
Limited Healthcare Access
Finally, it’s no secret that healthcare in the US is far from affordable. As a result, those in poverty are more likely to ignore illnesses, as the debt that healthcare would send them into is far too overwhelming. Consequently, they end up more and more unwell, sometimes to the point that their illness becomes deadly.