Community conditions shape the exposure and behaviors that encourage–or undermine–health and well-being.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified structural catalysts such as inequitable distribution of power, money, opportunity and resources, as a key determinant of health and safety outcomes. Poverty, racism, and lack of educational and economic opportunity also drive poor health, which contributes to chronic stress. Indeed, WHO reports that “cumulative experience” affects health and well-being more than chronological age.
In Trenton, glaring inequity exists between the city and neighboring areas, as well as within our state. For example:
Living Below Poverty Line: NJ 10.7% | Trenton 23.1%
Unemployment rate: NJ 6.4% | Trenton 11.9%
Rent Homes: NJ 36% | Trenton 63%
Childhood Obesity: NJ 14.7% | Trenton 28%
Inequity has been recognized nationally as a structural issue we must continue to study and take action to resolve.
Systemic differences in the conditions to which society has subjected members of racial and ethnic minorities have led to health disparities that place significant burdens on these populations, including higher rates of chronic illnesses, increased exposure to violence, effects on maternal and child health, reduced access to health care and insurance, higher mortality rates, and lower life expectancy, among others. In acknowledgment that racism is a serious public health problem in the U.S., the American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently released its new Black/African American Health Disparities collection highlighting research on health disparities among black and African Americans.
We are lifting it up as a priority for Trenton because we recognize that well-being cannot be improved without looking at health through an equity lens.