It’s reasonable to assume that a high paying job like being CEO of a major company can lead to high stress levels, as you are responsible for a lot of high-stake, important tasks. This is why there exists a common association with jobs like these and heart attacks. However, we learned by watching the “Unnatural Causes” documentary in class that this scenario is not really the case. It is actually people with low income that are in poorer health.
Okay, so that was a plausible scenario for me. Lower income areas generally have more fast food restaurants and fewer chain supermarkets. Lower income families eat cheap, unhealthy food because it’s what they can afford and they have little options. There are also more liquor stores and more people smoke cigarettes. This would lead to poorer health. And it is a major factor in the income-health relationship, but it was found that even regardless of body mass index, smoking, or alcohol consumption, lower income individuals have worse health and shorter life expectancies.
It all goes back to stress.
The only difference between the stressed CEO and the low-income individual is that the CEO can sit comfortably on his or her high salary instead of living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about how to feed his or her children. The CEO can also go for a run in the neighborhood, while the low income individual might not feel safe doing so in his or her neighborhood. The CEO can afford a gym membership, healthy food, and a yoga class. The CEO has time to prepare healthy meals and probably has time to read a book or meditate to relieve stress. The low income individual can’t afford these things, and the stress of overworking oneself to make the money to pay the bills, rent, and food for their family all adds up.
I was surprised to learn the correlation that exists between health and income even when the outside factors of unhealthy diet and behavior are excluded. Without the comfort of financial security or the ability to relieve stress in healthy ways, it is no wonder that it builds and manifests itself physically on the body.