Sunday, December 11, 2011

Disparity Of Health Amongst Young Americans

A recent study of health disparity in America was conducted by a group of professors from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke and Ohio State University.

The lead researcher, Hui Zheng, a sociology professor from Ohio State University claims that this study is "one of the most comprehensive pictures ever of health disparities" thanks in part to the to the advancement of medical technology .

However, the current disparity of America's younger generations is a quite large and will only get bigger according to the study. Zheng explains that as younger generations grow older, "health disparities in the whole population will grow even larger."

Young American adults under the age of 30 are finding themselves with a more varied level of health problems when compared to previous generations. The study shows that as this generation of people age their health disparity will only get higher until they become senior citizens when gap will become smaller.

As the baby boomers reach retirement age and beyond, this generation of young Americans will find that their range in healthy to unhealthy people will only grow over the next twenty years according to the study.

Zheng also suggests that the gap between the healthy and the poor of health will only increase with future generations. Disparity in health is a relatively new find in America at least up to the baby boomer generation. A study of people born in the first half of the 19th century will find a smaller gap in differences of health in the population. This new generation of Americans are finding quite the opposite result.

The results were found using including age, birth date and when the level of health was determined using surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1984-2007. They used these factors to create two sets of statistics that showed the differences in health over generations.

Zheng claims that this new study was the first time researchers have been able to "how see how each [factor] interacts with the others to affect changes in health disparities."

The survey asked people to rate their health on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. Even though this is not a medical conclusive report, Zheng finds that this type of survey provides a better indicator then a more professional opinion. The statistics also included many other determining factors such as economic background, race, gender etc.

While the research does not explain the disparity in younger generations, there are many factors that can be concluded as to the reason. There is a large difference in income between socio economic levels. Also, the increase in foreign peoples entering the country can also account for the disparity in health. This is also not to mention the increasing awareness of unhealthy and overweight young Americans.

As a result, young Americans born after 1980 will only increase the disparity of health in their generation. The population will continue to see a rise in the levels of healthy to the unhealthy as they these Americans age. The disparity will only drop when people reach a substantially mature age when the human body as a whole becomes weaker with age. It also should be noted the Medicare and pharmacy access may be a reason for the decline in disparity because of better access to health care as a whole.

Zheng explains that this new way of conducting research can be applied to studying any other types of disparity in society because the it "provides a powerful framework to identify and study the evolution of inequalities" in various determining factors from age to education.

This study of health disparity in Americans can be found in the December 2011 American Sociological Review for a comprehensive list and results found.

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