Opinion; Problem child

POSTED: 12/20/11 4:56 PM

We just got over the unfortunate health-comparison of lesbians, gays and bisexuals versus straight people and we are already hit with another one in the same series: the lower-educated versus the higher educated. Why wait with the comparison between poor people and rich people? It all comes down to the same thing.
A report by the Dutch Council for Public Health says that lower-educated people get health problems faster than people with a higher education; they are also less happy.
Would that be because lower-educated people don’t drive BMW’s, don’t have the latest flat screen TV and don’t have the money to buy whatever they want? That is not necessarily so. We happen to know some people who are awfully rich – and they are not happy at all. We also know very rich people (in the same Greek family, mind you) who come across as perfectly happy. We have met people in Egypt who were so poor, they had less in their whole house than we have in the left hand drawer of our desk, but they were proud, hospitable and happy. All this to say that money is not always a deciding factor.
The report however shows that bad food, smoking, alcohol and a lack of exercise are the factors that create havoc among lower-educated people. In the group the report examined, lower-educated women on average started to have health problems around the age of 52, while higher-educated women got their first taste of failing health twenty years later.
Psychologist Bram Bakker notes in an article in the Volkskrant that this gap was 16 years ten years ago; and he guesses that nobody wants to see it increase over the next decade to 24 years.
Bakker is concerned about the way this problem is approached. It is all about fast, cheap, fat and salty food, he writes, but the report says nothing about the psychological disorders that result from it. In St. Maarten we know a lot about psychological disorders: quite some young people who suffer from them end up in the courthouse and subsequently in prison.
There is not enough know-how about the effect eating habits have on our psyche, Bakker notes and the report does not pay any attention to it. That way, he fears, there is a chance that obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes will be brought more or less under control, while people’s psychological condition remains a problem child .

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