Why does there seem to be such a strong link between obesity and poverty? There are quite a few factors at play.
We live in the richest nation in the world, yet more than 15 percent of the population struggles to make ends meet. That 15 percent of families are only those that fit the technical definition of poverty: people making less than $11,720 per year or families of four making less than $24,492. Is a family of four living on $25,000 really much more able to afford fresh, healthy food for their kids?
The graphic below gets into some of the underlying issues that link obesity and poverty: safety issues, food deserts, and lower activity levels. There is one issue it doesn’t address that I’d like to add before sharing the graphic and accompanying article on poverty from our sister site Sustainablog.
Obesity and Poverty: The Subsidy Problem
Farm subsidies are at the heart of the obesity epidemic in the U.S., and this issue is even more powerful for individuals and families living near or below the poverty line. Farm subsidies help keep the prices of certain foods down, and the foods we subsidize are far from healthy. Think about some of the commodity crops that we subsidize:
These foods are not at the center of a healthy diet the way that we tend to eat them. They’re often heavily processed, and you see these ingredients over and over on fast food menus in one form or another. Corn on the cob or a slice of whole grain bread aren’t the problems here. The issue is when we turn corn into corn syrup and wheat into white flour. Soybeans aren’t bad for you, but processed soy filler ingredients in fast food are.
You can tell people all day long to eat more fresh, healthy foods, but when you can get a burger or a head of lettuce for a dollar, which do you think folks are going to choose? That burger is a meal. The lettuce is an ingredient. Until fresh food can feed a family – dollar for calorie – as effectively as processed food, people living in poverty are going to struggle with obesity.
Below, you can check out some of the other aspects of the obesity and poverty issue from our sister site Sustainablog.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Keoni Cabral
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