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Fri Sep 21, 2012, 07:37 AM

Reversing Trend, Life Span Shrinks for Some Whites

Last edited Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:42 AM - Edit history (1)

Source: New York Times

For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country’s least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.

Researchers have long documented that the most educated Americans were making the biggest gains in life expectancy, but now they say mortality data show that life spans for some of the least educated Americans are actually contracting. Four studies in recent years identified modest declines, but a new one that looks separately at Americans lacking a high school diploma found disturbingly sharp drops in life expectancy for whites in this group. Experts not involved in the new research said its findings were persuasive.

The reasons for the decline remain unclear, but researchers offered possible explanations, including a spike in prescription drug overdoses among young whites, higher rates of smoking among less educated white women, rising obesity, and a steady increase in the number of the least educated Americans who lack health insurance.

The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/us/life-expectancy-for-less-educated-whites-in-us-is-shrinking.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120921&moc.semityn.www



I'm thinking that being pushed into poverty has a lot to do with this. Either way, if there are such declines, it represents pain poor whites physically feel.

There are some political implications for this. My predictions, based on my inner cynical bastard:

1) Expect there to be a conversion at the polls away from small-government, pro-business ideology. Conservatism is going to shrink even faster than our demographic shift would indicate.

2) At the same time, expect the rise of right wing extremism. More White Supremacists and White Separatists who, you bet, will urgently cite this study. Their flight from the Republican Party is going to bleed it dry. At the same time, expect the wealthy to switch at least a lot of the funding from the Republicans to the radical right wingers.

3) Expect there to be a born-again love of social programs and government intervention. First thing, expect the Repubs to stop complaining about Obamacare over the next four years.

Whites are powerful enough that they'll sway trends in this country, once they're terrified for their futures, and these statistics indicate they should be feeling some terror.

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Reply Reversing Trend, Life Span Shrinks for Some Whites (Original post)
caseymoz Sep 2012 OP
Bohunk68 Sep 2012 #1
caseymoz Sep 2012 #3
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #2
DonCoquixote Sep 2012 #5
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #8
AngryAmish Sep 2012 #22
DonCoquixote Sep 2012 #26
KurtNYC Sep 2012 #30
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #32
KurtNYC Sep 2012 #34
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #35
caseymoz Sep 2012 #6
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #9
raccoon Sep 2012 #13
caseymoz Sep 2012 #14
antigone382 Sep 2012 #15
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #16
antigone382 Sep 2012 #17
DonCoquixote Sep 2012 #27
Zoeisright Sep 2012 #31
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #33
Bernardo de La Paz Sep 2012 #10
caseymoz Sep 2012 #12
sofa king Sep 2012 #4
caseymoz Sep 2012 #11
former9thward Sep 2012 #23
caseymoz Sep 2012 #29
caseymoz Sep 2012 #37
bemildred Sep 2012 #18
bemildred Sep 2012 #7
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #19
JoeyT Sep 2012 #20
Arugula Latte Sep 2012 #21
ahimsa Sep 2012 #24
harmonicon Sep 2012 #25
Aristus Sep 2012 #28
happyslug Sep 2012 #36

Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:02 AM

1. I'm not so sure that your premises

will happen. As long as the demographics increase for people of color, the Teahadists will become even more enraged, clinging to their guns and Bibles (KJV only, of course because JC spoke Elizabethan English). The Kochists will continue to fund them because that will keep the Kochs in power and wealth. That's all that they care about.

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Response to Bohunk68 (Reply #1)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:27 AM

3. That's about what I said.


I mean, I pretty much agreed with you there, except for the racists staying with the Republican Party. They're going to perceive the Republicans as being part of the problem.

Unless there's some physical fear stalking the population, such as, if there are race riots, or another terrorist attack, I can't see that right wing ideologies have very much cohesion. In Germany, for instance, there was fear of communism, fear of the West, (The French invaded and occupied the Ruhr) and trauma from World War I.

If things stay peaceful, no race riots, no huge terrorists attacks, no wars, I expect the right to shrink overall. Because they are motivated by fear.

The Koch's could underwrite those groups, but they still won't join the Republican Party.

Besides, how old are the Koch Brothers now? They're going to stop being a problem some time.

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:06 AM

2. Root cause: mainly overeating to the point of obesity.

I don't think this study or the reality behind it will be the cause of more extremism or less conservatism.

The word you are looking for is "cite".

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #2)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:33 AM

5. that is a bit cheap

and sails over the fact that less of these people have access to medical care. Obesity crosses all race lines, indeed, it tend to affect people who have to live an processed food, which explains why poorer people are obese. Right now, what is happening is that Whites are learning what the trest of us already now; the rich do not care about them.

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Response to DonCoquixote (Reply #5)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:58 AM

8. Obesity does cross all lines. They don't have to live on overly-processed food.

People can get nutritious food at relatively low cost if they use good judgement. I know, because I have been there, done that. They don't need a 1/4 pound of meat at lunch, three eggs and bacon at breakfast, and 1/2 pound of meat for dinner. They don't need to buy overly-processed food like potato chips and white bread and mayonaise and so on. Look at what obese people buy at the grocery checkout: fewer vegetables, more high calorie low nutrition food, and they pay more for it than a balanced nutritious diet.

People are obese because they eat too much. The number of people who are genuinely obese because of some kind of congenital defect is miniscule, vanishingly small. The proof: Obesity 50 and 100 years ago was a problem that rich old white men had and was much less prevalent in the poor and middle classes. Those groups of people did not suddenly acquire congenital defects in large numbers in one, two, or even three generations.

Tied into it is a lack of exercise. Lack of fresh produce in urban centers can be a problem, but it can be overcome without much difficulty. Besides, walking a distance to buy it and carry it back is healthy too. Frozen vegetables are quite nutritious too. The kind of obese people who are having shorter life expectancies are the ones who got obese in the 1980s when they were not very old and could walk and are dieing now.

All of that is aided and abetted by lack of education. Unfortunately too many children are damaged by the ignorance of their parents.

Yes, there are no simple answers to solve all the problems (lack of access to medical care included), but in way too many cases the main answers to people's long term health problems are in fact simple: stop smoking, eat healthily, exercise, lose weight. There are complexities surrounding those, but two facts remain: 1) Almost everybody (98%?) know that smoking, over-eating, and lack of exercise are very unhealthy. 2) Anybody who wants to quit smoking, eat better, and exercise can do it. Quitting smoking is the hardest, but millions do it by just doing it.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #8)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 12:58 PM

22. I'm not obese. I'm just big boned.

 

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #8)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 11:34 PM

26. a humble retort

You said:

"People can get nutritious food at relatively low cost if they use good judgement. I know, because I have been there, done that."

You know, you may not have meant this, but when you reply in the same "anybody can do what I have done" arrogant tone, you come across sounding very much like the Ayn Rand types. Yes, you may have made the system work for you, and yes, you might have had the combo of luck and education. Not everyone has that, and the response to those that have not is NOT to act holier than thou.

you said:
"Lack of fresh produce in urban centers can be a problem, but it can be overcome without much difficulty. Besides, walking a distance to buy it and carry it back is healthy too"

OK, let's see you walk in many areas of the deep south which simply did not have pedestrians in mind. The idea of seeing someone walk a few miles with a bag of groceries to feed their kids is funny, and the fact one does not factor that into things reeks of priviledge. We are not talking about biking two miles through the country to hit your favorite produce stand to buy some veggies for your dinner, we are talking about families on the bad end of urban environments, or even the rural environs that are becoming overdeveloped and crowding the former rural locals out of their existence.

You may have meant well, but before you get holier than thou,and especially before holding yourself up as some sort of "if I can do it, anyone could" example, youmay want to think about the fact that everyone is not you,and many of the things that let you have your choice do not come into play for other people.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #8)

Sat Sep 22, 2012, 11:43 AM

30. Obesity is also caused by lack of sleep

as in working 2 or 3 jobs.

Your theory about obesity doesn't match up with the research in the OP which cites smoking and prescription drugs as factors in the early deaths of white females who didn't finish high school.

Death from prescription drugs, especially pain killers, is now the #2 cause of premature death in the USA. More Americans die from pills than from car accidents. When significant numbers of people die in their 20s and 30s it brings the average life expectancy down sharply -- 5 years knocked off the average between 1990 and 2008. Obesity kills people in their 40s, 50s and 60s and therefore has less impact on the average.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #30)

Mon Sep 24, 2012, 04:02 PM

32. No. Lack of sleep does not cause obesity. It can be a contributing factor indirectly.

The fact of the matter is that the primary cause of obesity is greater intake of calories. Many factors are correlated with that and some have a role in that but they aren't the cause of obesity.

Many people work two or three jobs without getting obese. Many people do not get suffiicent sleep and yet avoid obesity.

Everyone who takes in excessive calories gets obese.

Remember, obesity is not just being overweight.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #32)

Mon Sep 24, 2012, 04:57 PM

34. If only that were true -- "cause of obesity (solely) is greater intake of calories"

Sleep and obesity (Harvard)
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/sleep/index.html

Metabolism, genetics, parasites, absorption, source of calories, activity levels, age, thyroid functions, starvation, stress and sleep all play a role.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #34)

Mon Sep 24, 2012, 07:31 PM

35. You misquote. I did not write "solely" in any post. I already posted that other factors play a role.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #2)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:40 AM

6. The cause doesn't matter.

Last edited Fri Sep 21, 2012, 09:24 AM - Edit history (1)

The perception does.

When people are obese and diabetic, it's aggravated to the point of death by poverty.

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Response to caseymoz (Reply #6)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 09:09 AM

9. Causes matter much more than perceptions.

Obesity cause diabetes. Poverty does not cause either obesity or diabetes. In the past very few poor people were obese and very few of them had diabetes.

Poverty aggravates conditions but the root causes (obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise) are much greater factors than poverty, and much more amenable to individual action than poverty.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #9)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 09:25 AM

13. Some prescription meds cause weight gain. nt

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #9)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 09:52 AM

14. Causes matter medically. . .


Perceptions matter politically, which is what I'm talking about. An unhealthy population is going to feel the effects of poverty more acutely, and they're not going to trace it back to their weight. Think about how poverty limits you if your sick. Transportation becomes a challenge, or in some cases, impossible. It's not like you can go to the doctor or to get a prescription as easily. Or when you do, it could take hours. Stress is higher. You're probably living in a poorer, draftier, pest infested house. It's probably dirtier, since you cut cost on cleaning supplies. If obese, you probably have sleep apnea and no access to a CPAP. You probably have a more stressful job that either requires too much physical labor or none. All of those, and more, result from poverty and aggravate the sickness you have. Disease on top of it makes the populace angrier and more anxious, and will be reflected at the polls. Our medical system aggravates things, even with the ACA and especially for the poorest. And that will become a political problem, too.

It's true that you might, individually, improve factors leading to illness like quitting smoking, getting exercise. However, it's also true that, statistically speaking, the chance of succeeding through individual effort is low. In other words, It's damn hard to lose weight and improve health in poverty, especially when the cheapest food is concentrated with sugar and fat. If you rely on individual efforts to take care of an epidemic of obesity, you can depend on certain people succeeding, but as a national crisis, it won't improve significantly.

The latest thinking on obesity that I heard from the BBC, is that when a person gets above a certain weigh, the part of the brain that regulates hunger actually becomes damaged and stops working correctly. Meaning, they actually can't get better.

BTW, in medicine, perception matters a lot. Have you heard of the placebo effect? You'd be surprised at what placebos have been known to improve.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #9)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 10:05 AM

15. Poverty is currently a very key factor in obesity, and has always been a factor in poor health.

The cheapest foods are the least healthy. People who work long and odd hours often do not have time to prepare a decent meal, if they are even educated enough to know what a healthy meal is. Food deserts are a much bigger problem than you are portraying them to be. And exercise is a luxury requiring both leisure time and money--gym memberships aren't free.

And you fail to address the reality that obesity and even smoking are not the sole causes of poor health among poor people. A lot of poor people work jobs that wear down their bodies, jobs that combine sustained levels of high stress with a lack of power--a combination that a good amount of research shows is disastrous to health.

And I know for a fact that the lack of healthcare leaves a lot of serious problems untreated--problems like decaying or missing teeth, serious back problems, injuries which require follow-up physical therapy, mental health issues, and more. I personally have a friend who was not able to have a colostomy bag removed for several years because he could not afford the surgery for it. It wasn't until he was sick with a life threatening illness that he finally qualified for the insurance to deal with it.

You say you have been poor before, and I am glad you managed to maintain your health and emerge out of it. I think you need to more carefully examine how and why your experience was different from the experience of others who are in poverty. I suspect that they have other challenges and barriers that you are not addressing. Poverty and poor education are not just "aggravating factors." They are both inextricably linked with obesity and poor health.

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Response to antigone382 (Reply #15)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 10:22 AM

16. No. Poverty does not cause obesity. Poverty is associated with obesity.

Poverty never caused obesity in the past and it does not now. It is associated with obesity these days. Correlation is not causation.

The cheapest foods are the least healthy.


No. The expensive foods are often the least healthy. Red meat is more expensive than fresh vegetables. Processed foods are even more expensive. Highly processed foods of the kind that are favoured by obese people are expensive, high calorie, and low nutrition.

And you fail to address the reality that obesity and even smoking are not the sole causes of poor health among poor people.


I do address it. I also mentioned access to fresh produce in some urban areas, lack of exercise, education, ignorant parents, and less access to medical care.

A lot of poor people work jobs that wear down their bodies, jobs that combine sustained levels of high stress with a lack of power--a combination that a good amount of research shows is disastrous to health.


People who work demanding manual labour jobs tend to be less overweight and less obese than people who don't, when other factors are normalized.

Stressful jobs exist in all strata and for all groups. They are not particular to impoverished people.

Poverty and poor education are not just "aggravating factors." They are both inextricably linked with obesity and poor health.


Poor education is a much greater factor than poverty. But even poor education does not cause obesity. Poverty and lack of education are linked to obesity and health (again correlation is not causation!) but not inextricably.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #16)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 10:55 AM

17. The word I used was "factor," not "cause." But anyway.

"People who work demanding manual labour jobs tend to be less overweight and less obese than people who don't, when other factors are normalized."--this is precisely my point. Their health is still worn down by the physically tolling jobs that they do.

"Stressful jobs exist in all strata and for all groups. They are not particular to impoverished people. "--the point is that there is a well-researched link between the relative power a job holds and the effect that stress from that job has on an individual's health. The larger point is that stress in general--which the poor suffer in far greater amounts than people who are better off, by any logical account--has a major impact on health.

And you did not really touch on the point I raised about all of the health concerns that are exacerbated by the inability to see a doctor--concerns that do *not* relate to obesity or smoking, but general wellness and the successful treatment of acute injuries and illnesses. Perhaps you mentioned them. But you continue to assert that obesity is the "root cause" of bad health among the poor, an attitude that is overly simplistic and ignores the very many structural problems that contribute to that obesity, and to other health problems that are just as significant.

My poor friends are not in bad health because they are obese. It is because they have untreated vertebral fractures; because they have to go to the ER for abscessed teeth rather than visit a dentist regularly; because they can't get the surgeries to get their colostomy bags taken out; because their hands have stopped working from severe arthritis; because working as a waitress on concrete for years wears out your knees and ankles; because working in the coal mines *will* get you black lung, a permanent injury, or death; because everyone in my home town gets lupus and no one can figure out why, because they hobble along from job to job despite depression, PTSD, or addiction so severe that they're barely alive...etc. etc. etc. It is not, never has been, and never will be as simple as obesity.

While we're at it, let's talk about environmental justice and the links between poverty, proximity to environmental hazards, and sickness.

A last note: my field is sociology and I use statistical analyses regularly, so I know the difference between correlation and causation. I also know a little about the many intersections of health and socioeconomic status.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #16)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 11:39 PM

27. Oh dear lord

You said:
People who work demanding manual labour jobs tend to be less overweight and less obese than people who don't, when other factors are normalized.

Stressful jobs exist in all strata and for all groups. They are not particular to impoverished people.


I could show you people who work 12 hour days are are obese, namely because manuallabor may tire you out, but is not always the best cardio workout. It also has their backs out,which means when they are not at work, they have the mobility of a wounded deer.

And as far as stressful jobs in all strata, I am sure Mitt has a lot of stress, but he has OPTIONS to deal with that that most poor people do not have.

People whoposy to DU are supposed to think about others before they post, and indeed, be preapred to learn, AND to unlearn stereotypes that poor people suffer because they are lazy and stupid. You just gave a speech that could have been given by Mitt Romney.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #16)

Sat Sep 22, 2012, 12:23 PM

31. Wrong.

Many poor people live in food deserts, where it's next to impossible to buy anything except processed foods. The cheapest meals are usually at fast food restaurants. It's hard to argue with someone paying a dollar for a fast food burger to fill them up.

The cheapest foods ARE the least healthy. Processed foods are not more expensive than red meat. Highly processed foods of the kind that poor people eat are inexpensive and FILL YOU UP. Have you ever gone hungry because you can't afford to eat? You're going to choose the most filling food that you can afford. And you do not have the time OR energy to prepare meals from scratch.

Just try making food from scratch when you're working three jobs to try to feed your family. When other factors are normalized, most poor people work in the service industry. Filling shelves at WalMart and cleaning rooms are NOT "demanding manual labor jobs".

Your assessment fails. I have a degree in food science, so I know what I'm talking about. What's your education?

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Response to Zoeisright (Reply #31)

Mon Sep 24, 2012, 04:08 PM

33. OK

Ok, your degree in food science entitles you to discourse on the topic of urban food business economics and try to shut up others with a final bid on credentials.

Fine. I'll shut up.

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Response to caseymoz (Reply #6)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 09:11 AM

10. Sorry

Sorry, I thought you might not be angry at a gentle phrasing rather than an abrupt "you misspelled".

The word you used was "site". It is a noun that means a location. The word that fits in what you wrote is the verb "cite", which means to reference something.

We all make mistakes. I am always happy to be corrected because it gives me an opportunity to improve. Please list the "seven" words that I may have "got wrong" among the 37 that I wrote (title included).

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #10)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 09:23 AM

12. I'm sorry too.


I should edit that post then. I meant seven words in the sentence you used to point it out rather than the seven words that would have described it literally. Sarcasm. I apologize.

I do know about cite, site and sight. I make my living writing. Allegedly.

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:33 AM

4. A couple of weeks ago I guessed...

... that about half of all the 54 year-old white males who voted for GWB in 2000 in the worst county in Mississippi are already dead. Over half of those older than 54 who voted for Bush in 2000 are already long gone.

I forget the name of that county, but the life expectancy there has dropped to 66 years, which has effectively removed an entire general election cycle from Republicans' voting lives.

I'm no Nate Silver, but I think that means that in either this election or the next, there is going to be a stunning demographic shift as the schutzstaffeln of the GOP fall around their flag.

Turns out they were the Judean Peoples' Front Suicide Squad.

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Response to sofa king (Reply #4)


Response to caseymoz (Reply #11)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 01:09 PM

23. CDC disagrees.

There was a decline in 2003 and has remained down. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db09.pdf

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Response to former9thward (Reply #23)

Sat Sep 22, 2012, 11:27 AM

29. So it does.


Just goes to show I just shouldn't quote stats from more than a year old off the cuff, especially before being treated for Attention Deficit. I remember drawing the conclusion at the time, but every memory I have of it might be distorted.

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Response to former9thward (Reply #23)

Tue Sep 25, 2012, 11:23 AM

37. Maybe I was thinking maternal mortality


I'll have to check, later.

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Response to sofa king (Reply #4)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 11:57 AM

18. That is an excellent point.

And has much to do with why the pundits are often wrong, they always assume the future will be like the past.

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 08:41 AM

7. Poverty, stress, poor health care, and bad diet.

No surprise at all.

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 12:16 PM

19. I've seen an attitude prevalent with many rightwing people with poor eating/exercise habits

 

that when other people advocate healthy eating, more vegetables, less soda, more exercise, etc., they take issue with it as a matter of "freedom" and independence and "none of those liberal 'food police' are gonna tell ME what to eat or do! You can take your rabbit food and shove it!"

Well, that's fine, but these types live with -- and then often die from -- the consequences.

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Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #19)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 12:27 PM

20. So do a whole lot of people

that are working two jobs to make ends meet and still aren't making enough money to buy food that isn't high-calorie low-nutrition garbage. Kind of hard to exercise when you're so exhausted from overwork it's a massive mental effort to not make your next meal a bottle of sleeping pills washed down with cheap liquor.

For many poor, salty/fatty/sugary foods are the *ONLY* joy they're allowed in life. Yeah, they're going to lose their shit if you try to take it away. We've already made it impossible for them to have any others.

How bout we work on a more egalitarian wealth distribution then we can worry if the working poor can pinch an inch. When being poor isn't suicidally depressing, then we can give them grief about the only thing that some of them have to look forward to during the day.

Fucking empathy, how does it work?

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Response to JoeyT (Reply #20)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 12:31 PM

21. I knew I would get a response like that ...

 

Yeah, I know lots of people have roadblocks, the system sucks, economics are stacked against the poor, working class, and middle class, etc. etc. Yet there is this set of people -- and I should have made clear that I'm talking about the set of rightwing people who do have the options, and they do exist -- who doesn't like health talk because of ideological reasons.

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 02:39 PM

24. Regardless of the reasons why..

..this is a double whammy for those the article refers to.

I'm assuming those without high school educations will rely on social security and medicare more than those with high school educations, but the age that one can start using those programs is going up simply because everyone else is expected to be live longer. So this particular demographic will have to work longer and "enjoy" a much briefer retirement due to their unfortunate and as-yet unexplained shorter lifespan.

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Fri Sep 21, 2012, 05:26 PM

25. I don't know how you come to these conclusions.

For your #2, it's too late. It's non-whites who have already fled the Republican Party. It now IS the party of the radical right wing, and that's where all of the money goes. Can they move further to the right? I suppose they can and will if that's needed to get them the votes.

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Sat Sep 22, 2012, 12:27 AM

28. Those 400lbs carb-junkies in Mississippi and Arkansas are dragging down the average.

n/t

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Response to caseymoz (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2012, 09:07 PM

36. I notice no one mentioned social changes that may be the biggest factor.

 

Notice the greatest drop in life expectancy relates to High School or less educated whites females. Lets look at this group (Both male and females with less then a High School education). Now, it was reported that this group is half what it was 20 years ago (more people finish high school today then in past years) but the drop in age does NOT seem to relate to the decrease in total numbers of whites with less then a high school education.

Now, lets remember people tend to become members of that class of our society their parents were in. Education was, and in many ways is, a way to differentiate between the different classes that do exist in America (Yes, it is American Dogma that we do NOT have any classes, but we do). Prior to WWI, the chief difference between the Working Class and the Middle Class was did you finish High School? (for the poor was did you finish elementary school) If you finish High School prior to WWI, you tended to be Middle Class, most working class people had to quit school after elementary and go to work by the time they were 14. By WWII, more and more working class members went to and finished High School and thus did you attend Collage became the big difference (With the poor tending to drop out in High School). In the 1960s more and more working class members attended and finished Collage, and thus WHAT Collage you went to and did you go to Grad School became the difference (and the poor became people who tended to finish high school). In many ways is still the rule. I bring this up for many of the elderly of today with less then a high school education, have adult children with a high school education, but while the education level is different, what class they are in remains the same and we are seeing the results of the decline in the poor since 1980.

One of the facts ignore by many writers when writing of people in this group is that people in this group (the truly poor) are among the most mobile people of the US economy, going where the jobs are. Moving not only several times during their lifetime, but many of the members of this class move more often during any single year then any other group. It is NOT uncommon for people in this group to move two or three times in a year (And some move even more often, I had one client who moved at least a dozen times in one year). Such movement affect the education of their children, thus it is not uncommon for parents without a High School Education to see their Children drop out of school before graduation.

The down side of this mobility is this mobility tends to separate the elderly from their adult children (And grandchildren). It tends to prevent such people from developing long term relationships with friends and social groups. What relationships they develop can, and often are, broken much more often then such relationships among people with higher education (And education is related in Income, thus members of this group often are short of cash, which is the primary reason they move, they can not pay the rent).

In people's old age, they come to depend on friends and relatives to help them out. Often the elderly help each other out. Think about your own life for a minute. If you have an elderly parent, do you visit them, or are they to far away to visit? Is someone watching them, or are they left to their own devices (And whatever care the Government can provide)? When they go into the Hospital, are you so far away, you can not go with them? Is your economic situation so poor, that if such a parent needed to live with someone, not 24 hour care, but someone to live with even if all the other adults in the house have to go to work (i.e. needs someone to take them to the Doctor, to make sure they take their medications, make sure they eat, but can be left alone for hours while the adults work). Can you take such a parent in?

People thrive when they interact with people they know, and for many elderly that is with their adult children. This type of support is most limited among people with less then a High School Education. They just do NOT have the stability to take care of an elderly relative due to their lack of income. Thus such elderly end up in old folks home, with people they can NOT relate to. It is NOT quite isolation, but close to it for most people and do to that "isolation" they give up the will to live.

Thus it is NOT eating to much, lack of exercise (which many people can provide if the elderly relative lives with them), being overweight, but the lack of being able to socialize with people you are use to socializing with. Upper middle class people can have enough income to hire people to socialize with, it is the lower middle class and working class who end up taking care of such elderly parents. The Middle Class and Working Class tend to have at least a high school education, and often have more then that. On the other hand it is mostly the poor that have less then a high school education and as a result tend to have very low income, unstable housing situation, unstable relationships and thus least able to take care of elderly relatives.

Just my opinion, the reason for the drop seems to be more related to the lack of support from one's family due to economic requirements of that family, then any other single factor. Given that women tend to marry (or enter relationships) with slightly older males, and females live longer then males, males tend to have the support of their mates till they die, while females do not. With this lack of support, women become isolated and then die. With the even more mobile society we have had over the last 40 years, it is easy to see why women with less then a high school education tends to find themselves alone and isolated and that is a recipe for death.

Please note, I am NOT talking about people in need of 24 hour care, but someone who needs to interact with family members. The poor tend NOT to have the stability to take care of their elderly parents and given this is the group mostly likely NOT to have a high school diploma you can see why their elderly have to be left with others. Thus this increase in social isolation appears to be why elderly women have had the greatest drop in life expectancy.

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