“Bodies Count,” and Body Counts: Social Epidemiology and Embodying Inequality

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Krieger, Nancy
Smith, George
Krieger, Nancy and Smith, George (2004) “Bodies Count,” and Body Counts: Social Epidemiology and Embodying Inequality. Epidemiologic Reviews, 26. pp. 92-103.
INTRODUCTION Bodies count. In epidemiology, this statement would appear to be a core proposition, for it is by counting people—in varying states of health, disease, and disability, the alive and the dead—that we derive our estimates of population rates and risks of morbidity and mortality. But bodies count for more than this, for, in their manifest form—in height, weight, physique, and overall appearance (including posture and disfigurement)—they provide vivid evidence of how we literally embody the world in which we live, thereby producing population patterns of health, disease, disability, and death (1–5). Readily identifiable to the naked eye, these aspects of our being not only are predictive of future health outcomes but also tell of our conjoined social and biologic origins and trajectories.