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The social determinants of health are a growing concern in medicine, as more research is showing that there are both positive and negative socially contingent health effects. The most notable of these is income. Research on the social gradient shows that people from a lower income tend to suffer worse health outcomes than those in a higher one. Obesity accounts for one of the major consequences of this gradient. There are many identified social determinants of health, which include income distribution, education, employment, work conditions, food insecurity, gender, race, and disability. A physician’s job is to care for patients; they have a duty to serve the population and understand the ways in which people are made vulnerable, by external factors, to certain diseases or ailments. Doctors also have a duty to advocate for certain changes in society that can positively influence health outcomes for everyone, especially those disproportionately affected by things like the social determinants of health. Within the realm of medicine, the social determinants of health can account for major disparities in health outcomes, which is why I think it’s imperative for medical education to cover this subject and prepare future physicians to address this unique vulnerability and eventually erase this disparity. Education on this subject will also lead to better research and more accurate diagnoses, treatments, and preventatives.

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