Key to Grade a Health
Results from conducted by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, study comparing people in over 3,000 U.S. counties found that a college education was linked to better health. There was an inverse relationship between more education and smoking, being sedentary and obese, teen births, hospitals stays that could have been avoided and childhood poverty. The Southern states ranked at the top in childhood poverty and sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy while the North had the highest rates of excessive alcohol consumption. Researchers also found that high school dropout rates were indirectly related to heart disease and cancer, which is linked to higher poverty and unemployment.
Income Also a Factor
A lower socioeconomic status – income and education – is often linked to an increased risk of obesity whether through lack of access to fresher and healthier foods or from a lack of knowledge about nutrition and physical activity. But researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics say that this association is primarily seen in women, and that, among men, there is not a statistically significant difference in obesity based on income or education. Overall, about one in three US adults are obese, which carries a risk for diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. For the study, the researchers found that 23 percent of women with a college degree are obese versus 42 percent of women with less than a high school education.
Stay in School
Previous research has suggested for each additional year of education, people have an 11 percent lowered risk of developing dementia, but the reason for the association has been unclear. Some theories conclude that the higher socioeconomic status and healthier lifestyles of educated persons is the most likely answer. A team of researchers disagree. Examining the brains of 872 people, the scientists found that more education makes people better able to cope with changes in the brain associated with dementia. The study shows that despite having similar brain pathology, those with more education are better able to compensate for the effects of dementia over those with less. Co-author Dr. Hannah Keage of the University of Cambridge says education in early life is particularly important.
Schools Do Impact Health
Healthier cafeteria choices plus longer, more intense periods of physical activity and dedicated school education programs can lower rates of obesity and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes according to a national study called HEALTHY. Researchers from the University of California Irvine conducted the study in 42 middle schools with high enrollments of low-income, minority children. Those in the intervention program were given more nutritious food choices, longer gym classes, and a number of school activities, including classroom instruction, that encouraged healthy behaviors. The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, revealed that students who were overweight in the sixth grade had a 21 percent lower rate of obesity after the intervention.
Low Education, Income Up Risk
A major Swedish study of more than one million children has found that attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is strongly linked with limited maternal education, single parent families, and receiving welfare benefits. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University found that women who had only the most basic education were 130 percent more likely to have a child on ADHD medication. Children from single parent households had a 54 percent greater risk of being treated and families receiving welfare benefits had a 135 percent increased chance of having ADHD children. "Our study showed that almost half of the cases could be explained by the socioeconomic factors included in our analysis,” said Prof. Anders Hjern. The study is published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.
Regardless of Parents’ Intellect
"Perhaps families with more books are more likely to emphasize education? It may have nothing to do with the books at all."
- Robert in the comments
One of the strongest predictors of attaining higher education is having books in the home, according to sociologist Maria Evans, U of Nevada, who led a 20-year study to learn what helps children succeed. Evans found that it wasn’t necessarily parents’ levels of education that predict academic success. Books in the homes of even the barely literate were found to further a child’s education by an average of 3.2 years. In fact, children of parents with less education had more to gain by having books in their homes. Findings indicate that the more books in the home, the greater the gain, but even as few as 20 books can go a long way towards helping a child succeed academically. "You get a lot of 'bang for your book'," says Evans of this relatively inexpensive way to boost a child’s education.