There are many perspectives on the answer to that question. Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that childhood poverty leads to adult poor health through epigenetics, toxic stress, and the cycle of chronic disease, including obesity.
Of course, poverty and health problems are locked in a vicious tug of war. Without a full-time job, you often can't get health insurance. Without health insurance, no regular care or therapy that might aid employment. Without income, you face shortfalls and stresses that contribute to health problems.
On the topic of stress, scientists have long recognized that poverty can aggravate health problems. Now they're also beginning to understand that the stress of too little income actually changes the way people think.
Another perspective is that the foods that are most affordable are also the most dangerous. A study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that smart SNAP policy can improve health outcomes. While The Health Food Access Portal believes that to increase nutrition in a community is to build a stronger community. It is a great resources for innovation and research.
Addressing issues like hunger, housing and education can have more of an impact on people’s health than the traditional medical services hospitals deliver. This piece from USA today explores the implications when select hospitals began screening for food insecurity. And in Canada, health researchers are calling on physicians to consider poverty a root cause of many symptoms.
Another perspective is that a growing gap in smoking rates between rich and poor is helping drive inequality in health outcomes. For example, white women on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder now living shorter lives, specifically because of poverty and smoking. Read more.