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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Diseases of affluence, Possible causes of the diseases of affluence

Diseases of affluence are those diseases which are thought to be a result of increasing wealth in a society, in contrast to diseases of poverty which result from impoverishment.


Examples of diseases of affluence include: type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, obesity, certain forms of cancer, asthma, alcoholism, depression, allergies, as well as a major range of other psychiatric illnesses.

These diseases are categorized as non-communicable diseases, whereas the diseases of poverty tend to be largely communicable either through infection, inadequate safety or environmental health regulations, or poor hygiene.

Diseases of affluence are predicted to become more prevalent as starvation and diseases of poverty decline, and as longevity increases. From a sociological perspective, there is a failure among policy makers to recognize that development could be experienced as self-defeating if it means exchanging one set of diseases for another.

Possible causes of the diseases of affluence

Factors associated with the increase of these illnesses appear to be, paradoxically, things which many people would regard as improvements in their lives. They include:

* Less strenuous physical exercise, often through increased use of a car
* Easy accessibility in society to large amounts of low-cost food (relative to the much-lower caloric food availability in a subsistence economy)
o More food generally, with much less physical exertion expended to obtain a moderate amount of food
o More high fat and high sugar foods in the diet are common in the affluent developed economies of the late-twentieth century
o More foods which are processed, cooked, and commercially provided (rather than seasonal, fresh foods prepared locally at time of eating)
* Increased leisure time
* Prolonged periods of inactivity
* Greater use of alcohol and tobacco
* Longer life-spans
o Reduced exposure to infectious agents throughout life

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