Your income level, race or ethnicity, age, sex or gender, or geography should not stop you from being healthy or living a healthy lifestyle. But in many instances, it does. Health inequities occur in all walks of life, in rural and urban areas, to both men and women, and to the young and the old and exist in nearly every aspect of health.
The National Institutes of Health defines health disparities as “the differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States”. What does that mean? It means that whole groups of people can face significant obstacles to maintaining good health, often because of specific genetic, social or economic factors. These factors can be based on many of the factors above or others such as disability, sexual orientation, immigration status, religion or mental health conditions.
Nevada has significant health disparities. Some, due to the vast geographic distances and population bias between the state’s two urban areas (Clark and Washoe counties) and the remaining 14 counties. This can result in a lack of resources or access to things like health care providers, medical facilities, safe places to walk, or fresh produce.
The Centers for Disease Control published a rural health fact sheet in 2019 that indicated that rural residents often have limited access to healthy foods and fewer opportunities to be physically active compared to their urban counterparts. This limited access can lead to conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure. Nevada is no different.
Nevada’s health disparities can be seen in the number and populations that acquire certain chronic diseases. Chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, some cancers, respiratory disease, diabetes, and liver disease represents five of the top 10 leading causes of death within our state. In Nevada these health problems are most often found among American Indians, Asian Pacific Islanders and Blacks of non-Hispanic persons. Many of these chronic diseases can be prevented by increased access to healthy foods and fresh produce, an increase in physical activity and movement and more frequent visits to your health professionals for preventative or routine checkups.