Health inequality is the term used in a number of countries to refer to those instances whereby the health of two demographic groups (not necessarily ethnic or racial groups) differs despite comparative access to health care services.
Such examples include higher rates of morbidity and mortality for those in lower occupational classes than those in higher occupational classes, and the increased likelihood of those from ethnic minorities being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. In Canada, the issue was brought to public attention by the LaLonde report.
In UK, the Black Report report was produced in 1980 to highlight inequalities. On 11 February 2010 Sir Michael Marmot, an epidemiologist at University College London, published the ''Fair Society, Healthy Lives'' report on the relationship between health and poverty.
Marmot described his findings as illustrating a "social gradient in health": the life expectancy of the poorest is seven years shorter than the most wealthy, and the poor are more likely to have a disability.
In its report on the study, ''The Economist'' argued that the causes of this health inequality include lifestyles - smoking remains more common, and obesity is increasing fastest, amongst the poor in Britain.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011