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By Jamilla Rages                       Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Friday, September 21, 2012            
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A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that poverty levels in America are increasing with more families and individuals now living in poverty.

Findings from the study indicate that many Americans face major hurdles as the country attempts to climb out of the current recession. For example, two million more workers found employment, but earnings, nationwide, fell 2.5 percent, with the average household income being under $50,000 for the second year.

Along with its findings about the continual dismal state of the economy, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also released reports on health issues affecting people living below the poverty level. 

Given the findings from its studies, the CDC recently updated information on health risks involving oral care, and obesity and is partnering with a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initiative called Healthy People 2020, which is designed to raise awareness about critical health concerns that Americans face. The initiative also provides goals and objectives on how to create a healthier nation and decrease the number of Americans affected by various health concerns. 

A CDC report shows that children living in poverty have a higher chance of having untreated cavities than children from upper class households, so oral health is one of the initiative’s top health concerns.  One of the CDC’s newly released studies from 2009- 2010 reveals that 24.2% of children ages 6-9, who are below the poverty line, have untreated cavities versus 14.9% of children of that age range above the poverty line.

The report also gives a break down by ethnicities. It shows that in the 6-9 age group, 25.8% of Hispanic children, 18.6% of black children and 13.9% of white children had untreated cavities.  As minorities are more likely to face economic hardship, studies show that the oral care of their children tends to fall as a result.

Adults living below the poverty lines also are more likely to face oral care issues, as well.  The CDC reported that half of all adult Americans have periodontal diseases.  Periodontal diseases are preventative through oral hygiene practices and routine dental trips.  Thirty four percent of adults 65 – 74 living below the poverty line were edentulous (lacking teeth), versus 13% of adults in that age range who live above the poverty line.

The Healthy People 2020 initiative set steep goals to decrease the numbers of obese Americans, but a new study predicts that obesity is expected to soar by 2030.  The CDC currently reported that 35.7 % of adults and 16.9 % 0f children 2-19 are obese.  Newer cases of diabetes and endometrial cancer increase with rising percentages in obesity.  The current economic climate unfortunately isn’t helping such health challenges in the U.S.

The CDC report says that the stagnant poverty level makes it difficult for America to lower the number of obese Americans.  While that are various government initiatives to promote physical activity and healthy diets to prevent obesity, the less fortunate don’t always have the means to eat healthy and afford fitness expenses like gym memberships and personal trainers. 

Not surprisingly, the CDC reported that Americans with higher levels of education and income levels are more likely to have lower rates of obesity.  Since the poverty line hasn’t moved except to go up, it’s difficult to achieve lower obesity rates for those with less income.


The author of this article, Jamilla Rages, can be contacted by email at epatoday@epatoday.org.


Additional resource:

Excerpt from Talking with Henrietta show, Rising Suburban Poverty.



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