Determinants of Health

(Introduction- Biological determinants) Biological determinants of health include those factors that influence the health status of an individual through genetics or as a result of the effect of micro-organisms. Biological determinants are also the structure of the cells, tissues and systems of the body and how well they function. The effect of micro-organisms is both positive and negative to our body. Many miro-organisms are necessary for such processes as breaking down complex chemicals in foods. Harmful micro-organisms, such as a virus or fungus, have the potential to cause disease resulting in chronic illness or death.

The body’s immune system develops antibodies to fight disease and the process of this dependent on a person’s health status. Being deprived in the necessary nutrition your body needs, you will be unable to produce effective immune defence mechanisms, putting the body in danger of the bad micro-organisms and the health problems that may follow. Some biological factors affect specific populations more than others. For example, older adults are biologically prone to being in poorer health than adolescents due to the physical and cognitive effects of aging. Some examples of biological determinants include:

* Body weight; being underweight, overweight, a healthy weight, obese. * Birth weight; being underweight is a huge risk for babies. * Genetics; sex, cancers, allergies. * Glucose regulation; also referred to as glucose intolerance or insulin resistance. * Blood pressure; can lead to a lot of heart problems such as a stroke. * Blood cholesterol; if build up is extreme it can lead to brain damage The determinants above are varied and although most people have some control over certain biological determinants, there is often a genetic component that cannot be controlled.

(Body paragraph –Genetics) At conception, the genetic blueprint is determined and the contributions of genes can’t be changed from there on in. The genetic material (DNA) contained in the body calls controls things such as sex, body type, hormone production, predispositions to disease and aspects of personally, and these all have and influences on an individual health. There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in our body which have a particular arrangement of special proteins linked together, known as DNA. Each pair contains one chromosomes contributed by the mother and one from the father.

Females have two X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y chromosome. As women have two X chromosomes, they provide the X whereas males determine the sex of the baby. If the sperm that goes to the egg is a X chromosome, then it will be a girl, and if it is a Y chromosome, then it will be a boy. Genetically, an individual’s health status is influences by various traits that are passed on from the parents. These include: * Skin pigmentation; if you tan, burn or freckle * DNA composition that determines blood type.

* Certain cancers; skin cancer, prostate cancer ect. * Allergies; e. g. lactose intolerant * Sex; female or male, XX or XY chromosome * Carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene; increases risk for breast and ovarian cancer * Diabetes; type 1 and 2 * Obesity Sometimes genes may not divide properly later in life or may be faulty at conception, and this is known as mutation. Mutation can lead to a number of health concerns, some are known as genetic conditions. This is because they are a direct result of the genetic information contained in the cell.

Hormones are responsible for the formation of male and female sex characteristic that lead to differences in some of the health conditions experienced by them. Some examples of some conditions that are either exclusive to males or females include * Women cannot get prostate or testicular cancer * Women are more likely to get breast cancer, less than one precent of breast cancer cases occur in males * Men can’t get ovarian cancer * Men can’t develop health risks from being pregnant eg. Pre-eclampsia Oestrogen is a key hormone needed for the menstrual cycle regulation.

When a women hits menopause, her oestrogen levels drop which can lead to loss of bone mass, making bones weak and more vulnerable to break and fractures. Oestrogen tends to result in fat being built up around the butt, thighs and hips (pear shape). Before menopause, women tend to store their fat around the belly. Oestrogen may also have a protective role in the development of cardiovascular deisease, which may explain the lower rates of this disease in women. (Based on self-reports from the 2007–08 National Health Survey (NHS), an estimated 3.

4 million Australians (17% of the population) had one or more long-term cardiovascular diseases) Testosterone is reasonable for the male sex hormone and the production of sperm. Although evidence is inconclusive at this stage, high levels of testosterone may reduce the risk of heart disease and men tend to accumulate more fat around the abdomen (apple shape), also increasing risk of heart disease . At about the age of 40, testosterone levels tend to drop in males. There can be numerous symptoms of this including depression, fatigue and loss of sex drive.

(Body paragraph –Body weight) The body weight of an individual can impact health and therefore contributes to variations in health status between individuals and within the population. Body weight can lead to many negative risk factors of a person’s health such as, increased chance of developing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and impaired glucose regulation. There are also many benefits to maintaining a healthy body weight such as, discomfort relief, healthier heart, and lower risk of diabetes may prevent osteoarthritis.

Being overweight/obese isn’t the only negative part of body weight, being underweight is a big risk factor. Depression, heart disease, arthritis, brittle bones, accidents, lung problems, make fertility issues, miscarriage and pregnancy problems are just some of the causes of bad health from being underweight. A useful indicator of body weight would be the BMI, Body Mass Indicator. The BMI score of adults is compared to classifications to determine whether an individual is considered underweight (18 or under-20), healthy weight (20-25), overweight (26-30) or obese (over 30).

Concerns arise when this method is used to make judgements about individuals. As body type is not taken into account, those with a large muscle mass and/or pregnant women may be classified as being overweight or obese when they’re clearly not. Maintaining a healthy body weight isn’t easy, but is achievable. In today’s era of airbrushed, size-zero models staring out from every magazine cover in the grocery store. Your body image is how you personally view your own physical characteristics, and for a lot of Australians, that image is negative. Energy balance is so important is being in the health weight range.

The amount of energy or calories you get from food and drinks (energy IN) is balanced with the energy your body uses for things like breathing, digesting, and being physically active (energy OUT): * The same amount of energy IN and energy OUT over time = weight stays the same (energy balance) * More energy IN than OUT over time = weight gain * More energy OUT than IN over time = weight loss Rates of overweight and obesity are continuing to rise in Australia. Excess weight, especially obesity, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers.

As the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions. * 3 in 5 Australian adults are overweight or obese, which is over 12 million people. * Since 1995, 5% more adults are overweight. * 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese * Over 30% of people living in remote areas are more obese that people living in major cities * Being overweight and obese is in third place as the contributor to burden of disease, smoking and hypertension is the first two. (Conclusion) A government organisation which will help maintain a healthy body weight for everyone across Australia is “swap it, don’t stop it”.

This organisation encourages people to swap the unhealthy habit in their lives for something more benefiting to their health, instead of stop that unhealthy thing completely. For example, swapping the majority of foods in your diet with high amounts of sugar, salt and fats in them for more organic, not processed foods, instead of not eating at all. Healthy eating and getting active can help you lose centimetres and prevent or delay the onset of chronic diseases such as some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. You don’t have to stop it, just swap it. Swap inside for outside or a big meal for a small meal for instance. http://swapit. gov. au/

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