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Poverty issues transcend politics; health, human development take the hit

Posted Sep 21 2011 2:48pm
Politicians in Washington are warming up election-year rhetoric early, hotly arguing either side of debt reduction, jobs creation and the "T" word.

But in the growing shadow of the looming election year, 17.3% of Alabamians live in poverty. That's not a political issue, says one UAB researcher, it's a lives issue.

“The ramifications of poverty are far greater than just fiscal or political,” says David Buys, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow in UAB's Department of Medicine and who has researched Alabama's food insecurity and poverty issues. “They stretch into areas of human development and community well-being now and in years to come.”

The effects of poverty can be damning and stretch well beyond what’s obvious. Lack of a sufficient amount of money to live takes a toll on everything, he says.

“Desperate times like these in which people are struggling to make house and car payments mean that many families’ typical attention to healthy diets, recreation, physical activity and education may be diverted to working longer hours just to pay basic bills, leaving children without the developmental stimuli that they need to excel now and in the future.”

And, now that more people are living without health insurance in this country -- 49.9 million -- that has its effects, too, he says.

“For persons without health insurance who forgo basic health care, the likelihood of being able to perform at an optimum level in their family roles, as an employee, or in their community decreases because of health-related inadequacies,” he says.

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