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International Healthcare News: Communities with small businesses 'are healthier'

Expatriates considering relocating abroad may wish to select areas with thriving small businesses, as this could make them less likely to have to make a claim on their international health insurance policies.

A study undertaken by sociologists at Baylor University and Louisiana State University revealed parishes and counties with a higher concentration of locally-owned and smaller enterprises generally have populaces with lower rates of obesity and diabetes when compared with other places.

The investigation, which is published in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, supports the assessment that less sizable companies have a higher likelihood of investing in the community and have more to lose if customers, employees and local members of the public have poor wellbeing.

However, the researchers noted other sociologists may view that big companies provide healthcare provisions for their workforce, such as dental and health insurance or pension plans.

Many of these corporations have moved their operations to other countries in order to benefit from cheaper labour, observed Carson Mencken, professor of sociology in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences and research co-author.

"Some communities appear to have thriving small business sectors that feature entrepreneurial cultures that promote public health. A place like this has a can-do climate, a practical problem-solving approach in which a community takes control of its own destiny," co-author Charles Tolbert, chair of the sociology department at Baylor, said.

Small companies are also more likely to call for anti-smoking legislation, hire physicians, support farmer's markets and promote community health activities and programmes than larger firms, the research revealed.

Diabetes rates have a wide variation across developing countries and it has become one of the world's most common non-communicable illnesses, a recent study led by Dr Longjian Liu of Drexel University's School of Public Health revealed.

In Mali, 0.27 per cent of people have the condition, but this rises to 15.54 per cent in Mauritius, the research revealed.

Moving abroad? Get a free quote for your international medical insurance online.
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