Income and Social Status Effects

By: Nicole MacIntyre, Shelby DeVan and Ashley Higson, Nutrition and Dietetic Students, Acadia University

Picture this – you are walking down Main Street, Wolfville and you bump into an old friend from your high school days. They appear to be doing well but underneath it all they are suffering from a pay reduction at work and they can’t afford their rent payments. You can’t always see the effects of poverty on people in your community. Surprisingly, according to Healthy Eating Nova Scotia “close to 144, 000 Nova Scotians live in poverty”, which is over 15% of the population of Nova Scotia.
There are two types of poverty: absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is a lack of basic material and necessities of life. Relative poverty is having an income that is less than 60% of the national median income. Poverty exists even in the richest of countries. Some things that people in both categories of poverty go without include, not being able to afford foods from all four food groups to make even two healthy meals a day, appropriate clothing and footwear for job interviews, transportation, or even being able to buy small presents for loved ones at least once a year.
Income and Social Status is the most important social determinants of health. It influences other determinants of health such as education, employment, health services, physical environment, personal health, social networks, stress level, psychological health, alcohol and drug use, food security and healthy child development. This is why it is so important to recognize income and social status as a social determinant of health in your community because it really is everywhere.

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