I’ve been watching the news and this bit about rich parents paying for their kids to get into Ivy League colleges has been big news. I don’t necessarily hope the parents go to jail, but the whole thing does seem a little unfair. One charge was that parents were paying smart kids to take college entrance tests for their supposedly not intelligent college children. I don’t know for sure but I kind of think this has been happening forever. The issue of privilege and using your ability to pay or give favors to those who could potentially favor you just throws everything out of balance. I realize it’s how the world works but it’s not fair. “Life is not fair Steve, you know this.”
Dr. Renee Diamond and I are giving a talk on Thursday to a bunch of healthcare quality people and our discussion is about improving health in the community. Before she was a doctor, Renee was a personal trainer and used to work with her clients on behavior modification.* In her portion of the talk, Dr. Diamond discusses how we as a society aren’t always equitable with our “essentials”. Example -- in the inner cities there are “food deserts”. Areas of the urban environment that don’t have access to healthy fruits and vegetables. Imagine shopping for all your food at Casey’s. Or lack of transportation. If you don’t have access to transportation, that limits your ability to get to the gym or fitness centers or even to the doctor’s office.
So fairness. The world isn’t fair and society pays a price. The rich parents, assuming they don’t outright pay for their kid to get into college, have the ability to hire tutors and services to help their kid take tests. The wealthier communities have access to better grocery stores, medical care, fitness trails and centers, etc and so their community health will probably be better. Should this be the way it is? Should our zip code determine our life expectancy and health status? Probably not, but it does.
Food for thought. AND this is our goal for the future, regardless of our zip code, we want to be the healthiest community in the country. (someone has to be, might as well be us.)
*She shows a slide that says that a person’s health status is affected 40% by health behaviors such as diet and exercise and only 20% by clinical care. The mix of trainer and doctor and her incorporating both is “a really big deal” when trying to get people healthier.