Racism is the cause of health inequity, from birth through to adulthood and into later life, according to a report by the Race Equality Foundation, whose findings are released today.
Researchers looked at Understanding Society data which found that racism is a key driver of ethnic inequalities in health, both directly and indirectly. It has an impact in childhood – with children from ethnic backgrounds being born at a lower birthweight and not hitting developmental milestones, to life-limiting long term illness, and mental illness in adulthood.
This report finds that racism leads directly to poorer health for minoritised ethnic groups through stress or worsening mental health; and indirectly, by exposure to targeted marketing of harmful substances, and toxins in the environment.
There is also a social economic element that impacts ethnic health. Minoritised ethnic groups are more likely than people from the White majority group to live in more disadvantaged areas, have poorer housing or insecure tenure; have higher rates of unemployment; and work in less advantaged, lower paid occupations.
Jabeer Butt, CEO, Race Equality Foundation, said
“From our research, it’s clear that racism severely and negatively impacts health over time and across the whole life course. Repeated exposure to racism leads to an accumulation of disadvantage and poorer health. These finding are stark. Policy makers must urgently focus on developing a national race equality strategy, with a clear plan to tackle ethnic inequalities in health and the socioeconomic conditions that compound ill health.”