Knox County study shows poor health closely related to wealth

New Knox County study shows poor health closely related to income level

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By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A new study by the Knox County Health Department finds a significant tie between the health of county residents and how much money those residents make.

The health department released the findings of its year long study on Monday, entitled the 2011 Knox County Behavioral Risk Factor Survey.

The results show a strong correlation between income and health.

Of the 3,500 people surveyed at random from January to December 2011, people with lower income were much more likely to report having poor health than those making more money.

"You find those adults reporting the lowest and poorest health status and the most challenges to their health," said Knox County Health Department Director of Community Assessment Kathy Brown, Ph.D.

The study also suggests a stair-step effect, where health slowly drops as income does.

"Those with the highest incomes have a little bit better health than those with the next level who have better health then the next and so forth," said Brown.

Brown says there are several factors contributing to the drop in good health, including where someone lives, their job and education level.

"Have access to healthy food. Have access to conditions where they can be physically active. To have health insurance. We have a lot of people who are working and don't have access to health insurance," said Brown.

People with less money coming in are having to make tough choices.

"Am I gonna be able to maintain my household? Am I going to be able to buy food for my children? What about clothes? Can I pay the electric bill? That level of stress takes its toll on the body," said Brown.

Taking care of oneself seems to be the first to go.

"People can't go to a doctor because they don't have the means to pay for it, so they choose not to go," said Brown.

Brown says the results of the study are not that shocking, but they will push the community to help make the changes necessary to reduce the disparity.

The findings of this study are already being looked at by community planning group Together Healthy Knox.

They want to provide the same opportunity for everyone in this county, regardless of income, to have the same chance for the best health possible.

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