Children's Health Inequalities

Ethical and Political Challenges to Seeking Social Justice

Disadvantaged children confront social inequalities in health in their everyday lives. Childhood obesity is just one of the health problems disproportionately experienced by disadvantaged youth.

This article presents an argument for applying a social justice perspective to children’s health inequalities. The author uses childhood obesity in the United States as a case study in which to ground the argument for the social justice perspective.

Key Findings:                       

  • Improving children’s health will require improving the well-being of their families.
  • Food advertising, neighborhoods, schools and parental practices all make a contribution to childhood obesity. Parental autonomy is an aspect of parental practices that should be addressed when discussing how to improve children’s health inequalities.
  • An example of programming from a social justice perspective is the Harlem Children’s Zone. This initiative focuses on improving the lives and health of children in Harlem by providing social, educational and medical services.

Children’s growth and development during the formative years are critical areas to address in the quest for social justice in children’s health.