Is Healthy Living Only for the Rich?

Zócalo Public Square and The California Wellness Foundation • July 28, 2015
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles


Americans are eating healthier, smoking less, exercising more, and living longer than ever before–but only if they can afford it. The growing gap between the incomes of rich and poor Americans is mirrored by a growing gap in nutrition, longevity, and healthy behaviors. The poorest counties in the country also boast the highest rates of diabetes. Residents of the nation’s poorest states also have the lowest life expectancies. Mental health, too, is connected to economics: Americans in poverty are twice as likely to report having been diagnosed with depression. What disparities–access, education, and free time among them–are behind these differences? And is it possible that those who have enough disposable income so caught up in fitness and food trends–zumba and kale, CrossFit and juicing–that they’ve become inured to deeper, pervasive wellness issues facing the less wealthy? LaVonna B. Lewis, of the USC Price School of Public Policy, Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating, and Roshan Bastani, director of UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity, visit Zócalo to discuss why all Americans don’t have an equal opportunity when it comes to their health, and what can be done to level this playing field.

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