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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Health Equity

What Is health equity? Health equity means that all people can reach their full health potential and are not disadvantaged from attaining it because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, social class, socioeconomic status or other socially determined circumstance.1

Differences in health status between groups that can be changed by social action are health inequities. Such differences are systematic, socially produced, and unfair and unjust.2


What Determines Health?

Many people continue to think of their health as a result of daily personal choices such as choosing more fruits and vegetables, choosing to be active for at least 30 minutes, choosing not to smoke. Others believe that seeing a health professional and getting medical care when it is wanted is what makes them healthy. Health, though, is affected by much more than that. It is a result of all of our living conditions - where we live, work and play.3 Beyond individual lifestyle and access to the health care system, health for individuals and communities is influenced by the total environment, including social and economic circumstances.

Date of creation: January 8, 2013
Last modified on: July 10, 2019


1National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2013). Let's talk: health equity. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University. Canada.
2Whitehead M, Dahlgren G. (2006). Concepts and principles for tackling social inequities in health: Levelling up part 1. World Health Organization. Geneva.
3Mikkonen,j. and Raphael,D. (2010). Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. Toronto: York University School of Health Policy and Management.