Factors that impact health

Everyone should have the opportunity to make choices allowing them to live a long, healthy life. Our health is largely shaped by broader social and economic factors (Public Health Agency of Canada) that exist outside of the health care system. Check out a few innovative resources that promote, create and sustain opportunity for all.

Learn more or get involved with local groups that help create change in our communities.

Income and social status

Income and social status are two important factors that impact our health. As a person’s income and social status moves up, their health status improves. People with higher incomes can afford good quality housing, have more options when choosing a neighbourhood to live in and have the means to purchase healthy, nutritious food. Higher income also provides more opportunities to access education, job training and community and social activities.

If you envision a society where people who work should not be living in poverty, where people who work should be able to meet their basic needs and be rewarded with adequate pay and benefits, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Social support networks

Support from family, friends and the community leads to better health. Having social supports are important when solving problems and dealing with difficult situations. If you envision a society where positive support is available to everyone, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Education and literacy

Education and literacy impacts our health. Higher levels of education leads to more opportunities, higher income, job security, better living conditions, and more knowledge about how to make better health choices. The ability to read and write is important for finding help and information when we are sick and how to take care of ourselves.

If you envision a society where people can easily access information and opportunities to increase their knowledge, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Healthy child development

Healthy child development is impacted by housing, family income, genetics, level of parents’ education, access to nutritious food and physical recreation and access to dental and medical care. Other factors such as brain development, school readiness, positive interactions and relationships early in life, the mother’s health during pregnancy also affect the physical, social, mental, emotional and spiritual development of children.

If you envision a society where all children and youth have plenty of opportunities to develop, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Employment and working conditions

Not having a job or balancing multiple jobs can lead to stress and poor health. For example, a lack of job security, stressful and unsafe work environments can put a person at risk for high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, depression and anxiety.

If you envision a society where someone’s job or work environment does not cause them to be sick, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Social and physical environments

Physical environments such as housing, neighbourhoods, road safety, access to parks, community centres and transportation, can influence health and well-being. Other factors such as air pollution, water quality and food and soil contaminants can cause a variety of hazardous effects on our health.

Also, the neighbourhoods where we live may be linked to health and well-being. When compared to the wealthiest neighbourhoods, living in poor or disadvantaged neighbourhoods is connected to having poorer health.

If you envision a society where all communities have reliable transportation, safe drinking water, clean air, playgrounds, grocery stores and safe roads, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Housing

Safe and affordable housing is important for good health. Good housing means having a home that is affordable, secure, safe, in good repair and free from infestation and mould. Affordable housing means having enough money to go towards other necessities like healthy food, transportation, child care and other basic needs. Homelessness, mould, poor heating, infestations (of lice, bed bugs or mice), overcrowding and poor ventilation, all have a negative impact on health.

If you envision a society where no one is homeless and where people can find safe and affordable housing, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Food

Food plays an important role in our health. Not consuming enough or not consuming the right kinds of food influences whether we will be healthy or sick. Access to good, nutritious and affordable food, and access to understandable, accurate information about food all have a huge impact on our lives, especially on our health.

If you envision a society where no person should go hungry and where people are able to buy the foods they need, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Gender & sexual identities

Our gender identity impacts our health. Individuals from gender and sexual minority communities may experience barriers seeking health care and social services. Your gender can also influence the types of chronic illnesses you may face. For example, men are more likely to die earlier than women because of certain diseases and injuries. Women are more likely to suffer from depression, stress and chronic conditions.

If you envision a society where people are not discriminated against or turned away from help and support because of their gender or sexual identity, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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Culture

Culture and language influence how we experience and view health. This is an important factor as minority popoulations face health risks stemming in part from a lack of access to culturally appropriate health care and services.

If you envision a society where people have the ability to express themselves freely, without judgement or discrimination, consider contacting or getting involved with these local groups:

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This item was last modified on May 1, 2017