Paper Sample: Relationship Between Social Disadvantage and Inequalities in Child Health Outcomes

Published: 2024-01-04
Paper Sample: Relationship Between Social Disadvantage and Inequalities in Child Health Outcomes
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Health and Social Care Relationship Childhood Social justice
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1636 words
14 min read


There is a universal agreement that children are the future of the nation. Hence, children's development and health outcomes determine the country's future public status. The United States government even declared a specific day, October 1st, as Child Health Day in 2007. However, despite this realization and commitment to child health, and the advancement of technology, there are still factors influencing poor health outcomes in children in the United States like social position and poverty (Lobstein et al. 2015, p. 2510). Children's health disparities and related determinants are more rampant in the US than in any other country within the WHO umbrella. It is estimated that over nine million children are uninsured. In the last few decades, governments and health professionals have started to pay attention to social determinants of health among populations as a factor to improve public health. However, the discussions have not been keenly focused on how social inequalities influence a vulnerable population's health outcomes. This article will discuss the relationship between social disadvantage and inequalities in child health outcomes.

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The main factor associated with social injustice is the level of income. Even in eras of feudalism, society often creates a division between the poor and the rich. The rich can automatically afford the good things in life while the poor have to struggle for everything ranging from education, resources, health, and lifestyle among others (Lobstein et al. 2015, p. 2513). In general, low social class is related to poor quality of life due to poverty. The low-class population in society cannot afford the quality of care, good services, resources, medications, and a healthy lifestyle. The association between social inequality and poor health outcomes is evident in many countries, especially developed countries like the US.

Simpson et al. (2015, p.105) state that it is the existence of social classes that engender health inequalities in society. According to the expert, it is a bad social position that leads to poor health outcomes, and poor health outcomes lead to a bad social position. A socially disadvantaged family cannot afford healthy nutrition, especially in the US, where poor people can only afford junk and processed food. Various studies have indicated the relationship between current high obesity rates and diabetes to socio-economic inequalities in the US, leading to poor public health. Additionally, since a large percentage of this population does not have insurance coverage, they tend to rely more on traditional health substitutes since they cannot afford or access quality medical care. It is true that the greater the social gradient, the poorer the public health and the higher the mortality rate.


Children from poor communities experience both inherent and situational vulnerability. Inherent vulnerability refers to the developmental needs and lack of emotional, cognitive, and physical abilities related to being a child. These vulnerabilities put children at great risk of health problems. On the other hand, situational vulnerabilities are related to their social positions, which put them at risk of society-related dangers like abuse, hatred, and negligence (Simpson et al. 2015, p.106). Although it is true that vulnerability does not necessarily mean being prone to harm, children from low-income families tend to be more vulnerable than wealthy families due to a lack of sufficient protection and resources. This implies that poor children are more exposed to harmful situations that affect their well-being and their actual well-being.

Currently, many studies have concluded that social positions affect children's outcomes. Although there are many health outcomes to be discussed, the following article focuses on mortality rate, cognitive and physical development, child obesity, and mental health. According to Galgamuwa et al. (2017, p.377), the child mortality rate has a negative correlation with low socio-economic status. Various studies state that women cannot get proper prenatal care due to poverty and social position. In most cases, due to poverty and the position of women in society, affording quality prenatal care is a problem that usually results in complicated births and poor birth weight. Poor childbirth health often results in the development of health complications in life, poor cognitive and physical development, or death.

Furthermore, poor parents lack the accessibility and affordability of quality health services and proper nutrition. According to Singer et al. (2019, p.1), despite the implementation of the Obama care 2010, a significant number of children in this community are uninsured. Due to economic strain, these children do not have the privilege of occasional check-ups. Additionally, lack of education and the related social disadvantages lead to poor provision of care to these vulnerable groups. Despite the restriction from policies and the requirement for equality in health provision, there are still untreated children cases due to the lack of enough money. For instance, a major organization like Kaiser Permanente has had various scandals in the media of patient dumping. Such social injustice in health facilities significantly affects children more than adults as children need constant care to enhance their cognitive and physical development.

In addition, uneducated parents and mothers in low social positions lack the understanding of healthy childcare. Keith-Jennings et al. (2019, p. 1636) note families in low social classes in the US cannot provide nutritious meals and cannot afford the nutrition supplements for their children. Children need healthy and frequent meals; however, due to a lack of healthy varieties, this group tends to rely heavily on processed and junk foods. This leads to a high childhood obesity rate and related health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. Lobstein et al. (2015, p. 2512) note that the rate of obesity in socially low communities is significantly higher than in the middle and upper classes. In addition to obesity, low-class children are also highly prone to mental health problems. A large number of children in this group suffer from physical abuse and sexual assault. Although health professionals at times can see signs of abuse, they are unable to provide help. The parents provide informed consent for the child and determine the type of care they get. This is an ethical boundary that hinders health professionals from understanding the children's status and providing necessary social and mental care. Low social class in childhood is related to poor mental health status in adults.


The aspects of poor health outcomes in the low-class children population in society do not directly depend on the country's gross domestic income but rather on how the governments address the inequalities. As indicated above, children's health development and status determine future public health. Therefore, it is necessary for the US local, state, and federal government to implement policies that reduce social injustice and foster health quality in children.

It is clear that poverty significantly hinders access to quality health services and the affordability of a healthy lifestyle. Lobstein et al. (2015, p. 2516) recommend that governments should implement food policies that hinder child obesity, especially in poor communities. The policies should also include a program for the provision of healthy food and fruits to poor children in schools. Additionally, developing an affordable insurance policy for children and pregnant mothers will significantly reduce child mortality rates and enhance better cognitive and physical development due to health resources' affordability.

Furthermore, Jensen and Tyler (2015, p.478), Simpson et al. (2015, p.106), and Crossley (2016, p. 268) recommend the implementation of politically independent social work programs and social policies. Simpson et al. state that such policies will stop blaming the parents and instead pay attention to the children's needs. Ethical requirements pervade social work; there, the implemented policies should enhance children's ability to get help without increasing vulnerability or inflicting pain. Crossley (2016, p. 276) notes that instead of social workers focusing on separating the children from an abusive environment, they should focus more on enhancing security and sensitivity in the said environments. This not only ensures better public health in the future, but it also improves the current public health status through the provision of mental health services to troubled individuals.


In conclusion, Social injustice is closely associated with health inequalities. This aspect increases children's vulnerability in society and influences their health outcomes, including cognitive and physical development, obesity, mental health, and mortality rate. Poverty leads to poor access to health services and a healthy diet. However, the implementation of child and pregnant woman insurance policies will enhance the affordability and accessibility of quality care before, during, and after birth hence reducing the mortality rate. Additionally, with food policies, the rate of child obesity in this group will be reduced, eventually reducing adult obesity. Furthermore, the social work program and social policies need to be revised to focus more on the child's needs. They should not be politically biased to enhance effectiveness, reduce social injustices, and improve public health.


Crossley, S., 2016. 'Realising the (troubled) family',' crafting the neoliberal state'. Families, Relationships and Societies, 5(2), pp.263-279.

Galgamuwa, L.S., Iddawela, D., Dharmaratne, S.D. and Galgamuwa, G.L.S., 2017. Nutritional status and correlated socio-economic factors among preschool and school children in plantation communities, Sri Lanka. BMC Public Health, 17(1), p.377.

Jensen, T. and Tyler, I., 2015. ‘Benefits broods’: The cultural and political crafting of anti-welfare commonsense. Critical Social Policy, 35(4), pp.470-491.

Keith-Jennings, B., Llobrera, J., & Dean, S. (2019). Links of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program With Food Insecurity, Poverty, and Health: Evidence and Potential. American journal of public health, 109(12), 1636-1640.

Lobstein, T., Jackson-Leach, R., Moodie, M.L., Hall, K.D., Gortmaker, S.L., Swinburn, B.A., James, W.P.T., Wang, Y. and McPherson, K., 2015. Child and adolescent obesity: part of a bigger picture. The Lancet, 385(9986), pp.2510-2520.

Simpson, D., Lumsden, E. and McDowall Clark, R., 2015. Neoliberalism, global poverty policy and early childhood education and care: A critique of local uptake in England. Early Years, 35(1), pp.96-109.

Singer, A.J., Thode, H.C. and Pines, J.M., 2019. US emergency department visits and hospital discharges among uninsured patients before and after implementation of the affordable care act. JAMA network open, 2(4), pp.e192662-e192662.

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