In society, there exist several social differences, the common one being financial inequality that leads to lifestyle stratification. However, since governments have tried to foster equality in healthcare provision by availing affordable medical services, health inequality still lurks in society. In his article ‘Solving the mystery of health inequality’ (Hawkes, 2015) Nigel Hawkes sheds light on some of the reasons that explain why health inequality is not a thing of the past. Nigel focuses on epigenetics to try to explain why the rich are always healthy and the poor are unhealthy.

The freelance journalist states that the population of the United Kingdom does not have a consistent life expectancy projection. It is because the country’s life expectancy is surprisingly a reflection of the amount of wealth owned; the wealthy being expected to live more than the poor.

He also goes on to say that the country has a refined healthcare system, and the inequities in healthcare access may not be the only solution to the pending question of health imbalances. Through epigenetics, the study of gene alteration, and modification of an organism’s genetic expression over time, Hawkes presents his theory on health inequality in society.

For example, intelligent individuals in society climb up the social ladder to interact with their equals. Through these exclusive interactions, they find mates and begin families. Their offspring will be more intelligent than the average person.

Similarly, people with good health, especially  the rich, will pass on their good genes to their children, and the poor will pass on their bad genes to their children. Some time back, it was believed that genes cannot change. With scientific advancement, discoveries have been made that their functions and operations can alter, and these changes can be transferred to the children.

As an illustration, Nigel gives an example of male fruit flies, thereby strengthening his argument. An experiment was done on the fruit flies that showed that the genetic characteristics were transferred. The first generation of male fruit flies was constantly fed on a high-level sugar diet. Resultantly, the succeeding generation showed traits of propensity to obese conditions. The author has built a strong use of logos to convince the audience.

In conclusion, there should be other evidences other than inequality in healthcare access that explain the health inequality in the UK and in society generally. One such evidence is brought out through epigenetics which explains that changes in genetic functionalities can happen. These alterations are then transferred to the next generation, and consequently, affect the individuals. The same thing happens to the health of the rich and their offspring, and that of the poor and their offspring. Environmental characteristics bring changes in genetic operations.

The author fostered the opinion of the difference in class bringing about health inequality, not by financial might, but by biological reason. He articulates the points in an easy-to-understand method, making it simple for the reader to understand his sentiments. The information is segmented into conclusive and coherent paragraphs with subheadings, clearly presenting views.

Hawkes concludes that epigenetics can explain the stratification in health, and blaming the poor for their health misfortunes may be unfair. According to his argument, there is a problem that needs to be solved, probably by changing the environment of the poor to increase their life expectancy.

Nigel Hawks presents compelling information about epigenetics and health inequality. Since this is a theory that environment affects the genetic functions of people, there needs to be an improvement in the environment of the poor people to safeguard such effects in future generations. Assisting people to live in places of good hygiene and taking nutritious foods will help them alleviate their poor health, and later increase life expectancy. However, more research is needed to strengthen the credibility of this theory.


Hawkes, N. (2015). Solving the mystery of health inequality. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 350.

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