Income inequality is making us sick.
Well, it's not making all of us sick. Only the poorest of us. That's what a new paper in Health Affairs by Hilary Seligman, Ann Bolger, David Guzman, Andrea López, and Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo found they looked at when people go to the hospital for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
The basic idea is that people struggling to make it paycheck-to-paycheck (or benefits-to-benefits) might run out of money at the end of the month—and have to cut back on food. If they have diabetes, this hunger could turn into an even more severe health problem: low blood sugar. So we should expect a surge of hypoglycemia cases at the end of each month for low-income people, but not for anybody else.
That's what researchers found when they looked at the numbers for California between 2000 and 2008. As you can see in their chart below, low-income people (red line) were <27 percent more likely to be hospitalized for hypoglycemia in the last week of the month than in the first. There was no week-to-week difference for high-income people (orange line).
(Note: The researchers defined someone as "low income" if they were from a ZIP code where the average household income was in the bottom 10 percent of all patients. In dollar terms, this cut-off was $28,000 for 2000-04, $31,000 for 2005-06, and $29,000 for 2007-08).