Culture and Health Behavior

As a robust young man and future health professional, I lead a healthy life by maintaining a healthy body weight in order to minimize my risk of getting certain diseases in the future. There are a myriad of reasons that can explain why some people engage in risky health behaviors, and culture is one of the most influential ones.

First, what do I mean by lifestyle choices?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  explains that people “establish patterns of behavior and make lifestyle choices that affect both their current and future health.” These behavior patterns that are established have positive or negative effects on health. For example, a person who regularly consumes a high sodium/fat diet and does not exercise will become more susceptible to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other related diseases. On the contrary, making a daily effort to engage in physical activities and eating a healthy diet will reduce one’s susceptibility to chronic diseases.

Second, what relation is there between culture and behaviors with respect to certain health conditions?

Democratic Republic of Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo

When I compare American culture to the culture in my own country, Congo, I notice that the majority of people in the U.S expect a certain level of expediency when it comes to getting what they want; the notion of immediate gratitude. For example, in North America’s fast-paced environment, most people frequently eat out as opposed to cooking at home. Conversely, in an agriculture-based nation, such as the Congo, people grow crops in their backyards, at their schools, as well as in other environments. Unlike the U.S, this also means that they have to endure the tedious process of plowing, watering, planting, and waiting for crops to grow, all of which are necessary and take patience. Additionally, when the crops are ready, they must be picked, sorted, washed, and cooked.

However, with so many food-swamps in U.S, it is often easier for people to skip cooking and go buy pre-cooked or packaged food, most of which have poor nutrient content. The culture of convenience has become an issue of major concern for most U.S. citizens, particularly because of its implication for certain chronic diseases. The websites below provide comprehensive overviews of the influence of culture on behavior with respect to health.

Culture influences many aspects of people’s lives, especially their health behaviors. Education plays an important role in raising people’s awareness about the negative health effects due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Developing culture-based approaches that effectively address the issue is critical to minimizing chronic diseases.

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