Economic and Racial Issues in Public Health


It is impossible to divide the health state of the nation from social and cultural peculiarities characteristic to the particular country. Even though access to healthcare is regarded as the primary reason that influences human health, eating habits, physical activity, and attitude to regular health supervision in the particular ethnic group are also vital. They determine the individual’s overall attitude toward the specific ethnic and social group to their health. At the same time, the public health system reflects the level of social and economic equality in the country, and the example of the United States illustrates this idea. The indices of the United States concerning its citizens’ health level are lower than those of other developed countries. For instance, Americans suffer from various illnesses and have lower life expectancies than citizens of other high-income states. It is possible to explain the existing problems in public health with racial and income issues. Many Americans from vulnerable social groups do not have access to adequate medical help and a healthy lifestyle due to economic restrictions and the influence of race-related factors.


The person’s racial background and socioeconomic status are often connected, which determines the influence of these two factors on the health of the particular ethnic minority. Dougherty et al. (2020) write that the level of poor and working-class people is significantly higher among African Americans than among the white population. In addition, the level of obesity among them is also considerably higher, which allows scholars to connect these factors (Dougherty et al., 2020). As a result, the level of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and arthritis among this racial group is also disproportionately higher than other ethnicities in the United States (Dougherty et al., 2020). This data shows a correlation between race and the person’s economic status that affects the individual’s health state.

At the same time, it is challenging to state which factor is more critical in the case of health problems that poor and African Americans face. The connection between these two factors might illustrate two completely distinct reasons for the high BMI index and the development of the diagnosis connected with obesity among the African American population. First, it is possible to assume that this racial group has eating habits that lead to an increase in the MBI index (Macionis, 2020). Second, the economic side of the problem allows us to hypothesize that African Americans have fewer opportunities for healthy dieting, regular physical activity, and visits to the therapist (Macionis, 2020). This information shows that public health depends on various reasons that should be considered.

Racial and economic problems leading to public health problems among vulnerable populations in the United States show that it is a multidimensional topic. It is impossible to divide these factors contributing to severe social inequality. Therefore, the public health system should address these issues simultaneously to achieve positive results. The United States reports the highest poverty level among developed countries, and most poor people are racial minorities (Beech et al., 2021). They have low incomes and no education or social support to care for their health. They do not ask for medical supervision when they have chronic diseases, which is among the risk factors influencing life expectancy (Beech et al., 2021). Among the reasons they avoid asking for medical assistance are the fear of governmental institutions, lack of understanding that they can receive professional help, and low expectations from the state (Beech et al., 2021). In other words, the level of awareness of low-income and poor people of color about the healthcare provision leads to significant inequality in this sphere.

Educating racial minorities and low-income populations about the opportunities to receive medical help and the need to care for their health is an essential step in improving public health. Lack of awareness about these options, and the inability of people with low income to manage their chronic diseases and improve their lifestyle habits is the reflection of structural racism and discrimination (Beech et al., 2021). It deprives people who do not belong to the privileged social-economic classes of fundamental rights, which is the primary cause of the problems in American public health.


It is impossible to state that there is one single cause of the low results of the United States on indices of healthy countries. Instead, the problems in public health are the reflection of economic and racial inequalities existing in American society. For example, obesity is among the causes of diabetes and stroke that influence life expectancy and the overall health state of the person; it is often the result of a sedentary lifestyle, low physical activity, and an unbalanced diet. It can be the individual decision of the person, the race-influenced factor that includes culture, or the social factor that includes the financial side of the problem. The vital detail is that people from low-income groups and racial minorities feel segregated from the rest of society and do not ask for medical health in most cases. Therefore, the state of public health is a problem that requires a complex solution that addresses the aspects of race and economic status.


Beech, B. M., Ford, C., Thorpe, R. J., Jr, Bruce, M. A., & Norris, K. C. (2021). Poverty, racism, and the public health crisis in America. Frontiers in Public Health, 9, 699049. Web.

Dougherty, G. B., Golden, S. H., Gross, A. L., Colantuoni, E., & Dean, L. T. (2020). Measuring structural racism and its association with BMI. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 59(4), 530–537. Web.

Macionis, J. J. (2020). Society. The basics. Pearson.

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