Good health allows us to achieve our goals, such as education, employment, or learning how to dance. Everyone should have a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible no matter who they are, where they live, or what they have.
Our health is influenced by so many factors beyond health care. It is estimated that health care accounts for only 10%-20% of what makes us healthy. In addition to genetics and lifestyle choices, many social factors interact to determine the health of an individual and community. Together, social factors that influence our health (income, education, social connections, and housing) are estimated to account for up to 40% of what keeps us healthy.
Income, or how much money we have, can determine where we live, food we buy, and our recreational activities. People with higher incomes generally live longer with better overall health.
Higher education leads to higher income, as well as the ability to understand what makes us healthy. Together, education and income are important factors that determine our health, the health of our families and our community.
Social connections and healthy relationships help people deal with hard times. Support from friends, family, co-workers, sports clubs, or faith-based groups may buffer or prevent health problems.
Affordable housing, in safe neighbourhoods with access to transportation, can significantly influence an individual’s health and well-being.
Food Security means regular access to healthy food that meets personal and cultural needs, which leads to good health. People who cannot regularly afford healthy food are more likely to have poor health.
Building Capacity For Equity
Since these social factors affect our health, the way these resources are distributed in our community can mean different health outcomes for different groups of people. We believe that isn’t fair, and that public health has a role in highlighting the differences in health status between groups of people and working with the community to make health achievable for everyone.
Learn more about the social factors that impact your health.