Social Determinants of Health Essay Example

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The social determinants of health entails conditions in which persons are born, grow up, work, live and get into old age besides the broader set of systems and forces shaping the conditions of everyday life. These systems and forces include development agendas, social policies, political systems, economic systems and policies, and social norms. The social determinants of health are shaped by distribution of power, resources and money at global, national and local levels, which are affected by policy choices. The social determinants of health affect the health of people and they include stress, social exclusion, social gradient, addiction and food to mention but a few. The focus of this essay is on addiction and food. The essay explores the relationship between addiction and food problem as well as how to solve the problem of addiction and food.

Food and addiction are major social determinants of health. The World Health Organisation identifies ten categories of social determinants of health among them food and addiction. According to Stein (2014, p.247), social determinants of health hold a crucial impact on health status and public health interventions from both nongovernmental and government organisations. Smoking and alcohol dependence as well as illegal drug use are reactions to social breakdown and major contributors of health inequalities. People turn to alcohol and other drugs as an effort of lowering pain from harsh economic and social realities. Although people take alcohol, smoke or use illegal drugs to relieve pain from social and economic realities, these substances relieve their pain temporarily but only intensify the aspects that instigate their use. Dependence on alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs are a huge drain on people’s health and income and lower their involvement in society. These substances instigate premature death and ill health. Apparently, addiction causes serious health issues to individuals and other people. Once addiction grows, it interferes with the functions of the brain thereby affecting ones mental health and social life. According to Bassett (2015), the United States is facing a crisis of mental health that includes addiction. One out of five people in New York City experience mental health disorders linked to smoking, alcohol or substance addiction. Substance abuse and addiction are among the major contributors of premature deaths and ill health in the world. The problem of food affects people health and social life. Food security is an essential issue both locally and internationally. Poverty related to lack of foods subsists side by side with plenty of food. However, access to quality and sufficient food makes a disparity to what individuals consume. Reduced access to quality food affects ones health and social life. According to Pearson (2008, p.29), food insecurity is viewed as a health disparity. People with low-income levels do not eat well compared to persons of a higher income level. Reliable access to and frequent consumption of healthy food is viewed as an important social determinant of health. Lack of healthy foods does not only affect ones health, but also social life.

Addiction and food problem are closely linked as they both affect ones health and social life. According to Raphael (2009, p.6), different social determinants of health such as food problem and addiction, hold greater influence on health and the incidence of illness compared to conventional behavioural and biomedical risk factors. The food problem and addiction affects quality of life. For instance, lack of adequate food causes health and social issues such diseases and fights for the scarce food. Similarly, smoking, drug and alcohol dependence causes health issues such as lung cancer as well as social disorders in the sense the addicts sometimes become unruly and can instigate fights. Both the food problem and addiction negatively affects social life of not only the individuals directly affected but also the society as a whole. Food problem and substance or alcohol dependence instigates poverty and social issues. Individuals suffering from substance abuse and addiction become malnourished because they may fail to purchase or prepare the right and adequate food

The problem of uncertain or inadequate access to food as well as the problem of addiction are intricate issues and can practically be comprehended as beyond the reach of educational efforts alone. To establish effective interventions, public and community health professionals must be prepared to stress strategies and theories of corresponding complexity (Raphael (2009, p.6). Apparently, food is a basic requirement for survival. When food become scarce, people fight for it, yet when it is plenty, people waste it. The transition from food abundance to food scarcity can take place rapidly. To address the issues of food problem, nations advocates for food security. Food security is a term used by policy makers to suggest sustained access to sufficient food that is safe, nutritious, affordable and suitable for a healthy and active life (Raphael 2009, p.6). People are implementing strategies that promote food security at local and international levels. To address the people of alcohol, smoking and drug dependence, different nations have embraced long-term investment, powerful collaboration, constant political will and sustained attention. Following years of incremental development in the fight against tobacco, most lawmakers raise taxes and ban smoking in public places (Bassett 2015). Other strategies that help in addressing or preventing the problem of addiction include educating people on the harmful effects of smoking, alcohol and substance dependence. All parts of government that include police department and school systems and other agencies commit to roadmaps aimed at addressing the problem of addiction. However, further strategies and interventions are required to meet the challenge of addiction and food problem.


Social determinants of health entail the conditions in which people were born, grow up, live work and age including the system of health. These determinants include social exclusion, food and addiction to mention but a few. Social determinants of health hold a significant impact on health status and public health interventions. The food problem causes ill health and even death. Similarly, addiction to smoking, alcohol or illicit drugs causes ill health and premature deaths. Both addiction and food problem hold serious effects on health and the incidence of health besides causing social issues. To address the problem of food, people at are advocating for strategies that promote food security while the problem of addiction instigates implementation of laws that raising taxes on products such as tobacco and alcohol are implemented. However, stringent measures need to be implemented to completely address and manage the problem addiction and food.

Reference List

Bassett, M.T 2015, ‘ The mental health crisis needs to be fought as robustly as the smoking battle’, The Guardian [17th November 2015). Retrieved from

Pearson, R.L 2008, Exploring Certified Health Education Specialists’ Knowledge of Household Food Insecurity and Related Workforce Readiness, USA, University of Arkansas.

Raphael, D 2009, Social determinants of health: Canadian perspectives, Canada: Canadian Scholars Press.

Stein, N 2014, Public health nutrition, UK, Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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