The more money you have, the healthier you will be

The more money you have the longer you are likely to live. This is a fact. So better start pumping the savings and boost your earning potential for longevity and good health.

A recent report by the Urban Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University examined the complex links between health, wealth and income. No surprises here, the report showed that poverty has a direct impact on health. The report highlighted that health and income improve all the way up the economic pyramid. The wealthiest have fewer illnesses than the upper-middle class, who are in better shape than the lower middle-class, and so on.

But it is not only about having more money than the next person, it is also about choices, as reported in The Tennessean last year. Unhealthy life styles come at a price. A packet of cigarettes currently sells for around R35 in South Africa. Assuming someone smokes one packet every two days the spend per month is R525 or more than R6 000 per year. A rather tidy sum that could have been saved or invested. Not to mention the cost of ill-health associated with smoking, so widely reported on all the time.

Same goes for unhealthy eating habits. A 2011 study by George Washington University concluded that the average annual cost of being obese was $4 879 (approximately R60 000) for women in the USA and $2 646 (R32 500) for men due to indirect costs such as lower productivity and direct costs like medical care.

The Urban Institute analyzed a dozen health problems for which the USA Centre for Disease Control has recorded prevalence by family income. In every case, the rich are better off.

The report noted that how health and money are related is complex. For both rich and poor, the two attributes likely reinforce one another. “Not only does higher income facilitate better health, but poor health and disabilities can make it harder for someone to succeed at school or to secure and retain a high-paying job,” according to the Urban report.

Living in poverty often means less access to nutritious food or neighborhoods safe for outdoor exercise. Low-income people are more likely to smoke or be obese. White-collar jobs are less physically demanding, and people who have them can afford to take a day off for a doctors’ visit or to get a gym membership. They’re also probably not working the night shift, which is linked to cancer and other health problems.

According to a 2012 report by the World Health Organisation people in Japan – a sophisticated and advanced economy – have a life expectancy of 86, followed by Andorra and Singapore at 82 years. In this report South African life expectancy was indicated as 61, at number 159 out of 193 countries listed.

Sources: Bloomberg.com; Tennessean.com; Wikipedia.com

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