Public health and politics

An idea I want some feedback on

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Public health and politics

#1  Postby dochmbi » Apr 26, 2018 8:26 pm

Hey. I just had this idea and I'd like to present it here to get some more thoughts and potentially find out about research in the area. So, I've been reading about the correlation of psychology to political views, I know that conservatives for instance have a stronger disgust response than liberals (in the US).

My suspicion is the following: I think that lifestyle and health has an effect on a persons political views. I suspect that for instance the levels of stress hormones would influence political attitude, someone with high levels of stress hormones might view society as fundamentally competitive and their main concern would be fighting to secure resources for themselves. Someone with a low level of said hormones could be less competitive and more cooperative, oriented towards giving rather than taking.

It would be very interesting to get data on peoples political attitude and views before and after a lifestyle change (for instance getting in better shape, quitting smoking, starting regular meditation, eating a healthier diet, jogging regularly etc).
Or simply right after a relaxing bath, or a run or something else that significantly affects brain chemistry.

Of course peoples health often depends on the example set by their parents, by society around them, by genetics etc. But people also have the ability to take control of their own lives and make themselves healthier with small, gradual changes that manifest over time. My thought is that this kind of improvement might also carry a political agenda with it and not just improve well-being.

So, would a healthier population naturally tend towards a healthier, happier and more balanced society?

I know my post is not entirely coherent but I hope you get my drift.
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Re: Public health and politics

#2  Postby scott1328 » Apr 26, 2018 8:56 pm

No. Equity of privilege leads to a happier and more balanced society.
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Re: Public health and politics

#3  Postby jamest » Apr 26, 2018 9:54 pm

In the UK poor people are generally more stressed (because of having little money to pay for food and bills, so they worry) and unhealthy than the rich and yet they generally vote for Labour (so high stress levels does not correlate with voting Conservative, as you say). The main reason being that the Labour Party generally tends to promise more direct help for the poor than the Conservatives. More help = more money = less stress and better health for the poor. You see, they want the same things as the rich, so they vote for the Party which offers them the most promise of climbing the ladder. They don't merely vote for Labour because they're stressed and unhealthy. They do so for a higher purpose.
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Re: Public health and politics

#4  Postby kiore » Apr 27, 2018 3:31 am

Interesting idea, there have been validated population health studies related to this particularly by Marmot. M the most famous being the Whitehall studies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitehall_Study
Now these are focused on examining social status as a predictor for group (not individual) life expectancy, but extrapolation of this data suggests the more educated and (possibly) liberal you are the longer your group life expectancy. These studies and the principle of 'status syndrome' do not address politics as such, other research suggests educational level is a predictor of political ideology or at least voting patterns. As I said, interesting idea.
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Re: Public health and politics

#5  Postby Sendraks » Apr 27, 2018 10:45 am

Having worked in public health and also having some involvement in the twenty year on Marmot report, I can tell you that poor public health is correlated with education and wealth, both of which are factors which influence people's politics.

Areas of deprivation tend to have very poor public health and (back in the late 90s and early 00s when I first worked in public health) largely accounted for the 10% of the population with poor oral hygiene. Poor dental care is a major factor of morbidity. Deprived areas tend to have poorer education and consequently the population isn't aware/doesn't understand why things like toothpaste and tooth brushes are a critical part of their well being.
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