The concept of ‘ determinants of health’ is problematic (Frankish, Milligan and Reid, 1998). This is because categories classed as ‘ determinants of health’ often overlap, such as employment, income, and socioeconomic status, and the evidence to link specific determinants to specific aspects of health is not always of sufficient quality. However, if determinants are taken as those factors influencing an individual’ s health, then age is just. There are a number of other determinants of health of equal if not greater importance than age including lifestyle, education, socio-economic status, genetics, stress, exercise, nutrition, healthcare, etc (Frankish et al, 1998).
For example, Frankish et al (1998) report those people with higher socioeconomic status have been found in several studies to be those who tend to engage in more active, diverse and intellectually demanding activities, and tend to be those who have the knowledge, resources and time to organize and engage in sports activities, leading to improved levels of health. Income may constrain people’ s ability to take part in leisure activities, creating a difference in the types of activities people, not in employment engage in.
Social support can also be important in determining engagement in active lifestyles, for example, those people with active friends are more likely to be active themselves; and. Furthermore, the social environment can be important in determining people’ s physical and mental health and choices to engage in active lifestyles. This is evident in the increases in life expectancy for men and women to 76 years and 80 years respectively in 2002 compared to 45 years and 49 years respectively in 1901 (Office for National Statistics 2000) A longitudinal study also followed economically and educationally disadvantaged young inner-city men in North America from approximately age 14 to age 70 and found personally controllable variables such as lifestyle choices were greater predictors of subjective and objective health in old age (Valliant and Western, 2001).
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