Ever wonder why low-income people tend to be fat and unhealthy?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 24, 2007 3:55 PM GMT
    A couple new studies may help explain why:

    THURSDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- In this land and season of plenty, low-income and rural Americans continue to have difficulty finding healthy foods that are affordable, a new study finds.

    One study shows that low-income Americans now would have to spend up to 70 percent of their food budget on fruits and vegetables to meet new national dietary guidelines for healthy eating.

    And a second study found that in rural areas, convenience stores far outnumber supermarkets and grocery stores -- even though the latter carry a much wider choice of affordable, healthy foods.

    The full story is here:

    http://tinyurl.com/2r2fpu
  • HndsmKansan

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    Nov 24, 2007 4:10 PM GMT
    I have heard this before. It seems kind of hard to believe, but it does make sense.
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    Nov 24, 2007 5:26 PM GMT
    I'd say because unhealthy food is much cheaper to buy and easier to fill you up. Healthy food can be extremely expensive, I notice it even at college the healthy food can be 2x to 3x as much as the unhealthy food. Its pretty rediculous.
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    Nov 24, 2007 5:55 PM GMT
    cause a meal in a fancy restaurant could cost 100 per person, and they serve you in that midget baby portion.

    while a meal in a cheap restaurant only cost 30 per person, and they give you portion to feed an army.

    food is easy endorphine, a cheap and fast way to make poor people happy. for those with more money, they just keep buying stuff to have that quick rush.
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    Nov 24, 2007 6:11 PM GMT
    I've judged an annual cooking contest for our local community food bank for years. It's recipes that various organizations dream up to use in "soup kitchens," using donated food. Believe me, most of the ingredients are pure fat and sugar. There are a few over-salted canned vegetables, but mainly it's just this side of junk food.
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    Nov 24, 2007 6:37 PM GMT
    The bottom line is nutrition. If your body is not absorbing vitamines and minerals from whole foods, the brain will trigger hunger signals.

    No of these foods contain much vitamines and minerals
    that you are talking about. They contain fat as well.

    The quanity that people are eating is way too much. It is mainly junk foods as well.

    I am not sure if money is always the issue. I have had friend of family members over for dinner and even the freshest of fruits and veggies they don't eat....
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    Nov 24, 2007 10:31 PM GMT
    yeah healthy food, ie: organic, etc tends to be pricier.

    also fast food which is the cheapest is the most unhealthy, so unfortunately cheap food comes at a high price.
  • Alan95823

    Posts: 306

    Nov 24, 2007 10:50 PM GMT
    Organic food is more expensive, but produce in general is dirt cheap (pardon the pun) if you go to local farmer's markets. I've steered quite a few friends in that direction when they were complaining about their food budget, and last time we talked about it they estimated that they're saving about $100 a month doing that.

    Plus, with local farmers, you can things much more fresh than in larger supermarket chains, so it's cheaper and the quality is better.
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    Nov 24, 2007 11:13 PM GMT
    Without being offensive, education plays into this A LOT as well. My parents genuinely did not know that the stuff they were feeding us was horrible for you. My dad was slim, but he ate whatever he wanted. He would bring home french fries for us after work. We would get ice cream after church. They let us eat 2 big macs because my brother and I were growing boys (horizontally, though). All of that. My dad worked 40 hr. a week plus overtime of genuine manual labor and my mom was too busy cooking and cleaning and entertaining my brother and I to learn what proper nutrition was.

    In the end, my family paid for it. My brother and I were both at least 70 lbs overweight and my dad had to have quadruple bypass surgery. It was just a matter of education. We forget what the blue collar life is like, I think.
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    Nov 24, 2007 11:14 PM GMT
    Oh, and all the economic things, too. Forget $30 a meal (that is still expensive!) $15 for the whole family tops it all. Plus it made my bro and I happy. And I think that is what my parents wanted. I love them.
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    Nov 24, 2007 11:22 PM GMT
    Alan,

    That's not always true. It is in my case, but especially in larger cities farmers markets can be a lot more expensive than supermarkets. Local farmers simply don't have the economies of scale that agribusiness producers do. Farmers markets in many places are also often not year round, and go away in the winter because the local produce ends its season.

    I'm not that surprised by this study, frankly. I know well how hard it is to eat healthy on a tiny budget. I've solicited advice on these forums before for that very reason, and it's taken that advice plus a little creativity to create a healthy diet on a small budget. The odds are stacked against the poor, especially since there's a large information gap out there. When the vast majority of the information that you're being barraged with is focused on unhealthy food, that tiny bit of news that you may get on the network news is going to fly right past you. Then, when you go to the supermarket you're confronted with a vast array of food that is extremely cheap, but also extremely unhealthy. If you don't know where to start in looking for ways to eat healthy but cheap, you're pretty well screwed.

    That being said, there's still an element of personal responsibility to all this. It's just that there are so many other competing factors that the poor run into.
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    Nov 24, 2007 11:26 PM GMT
    Sickothesame,

    I ditto you on that "forgetting what the blue collar worker is like." I grew up in a blue collar, rural family as well and we didn't eat extraordinarily healthy, though we all worked a lot of manual labor and ate better than a lot of people still so it kept us in tolerable shape. It's really easy for people to look down from their well-padded incomes to decree that poor people should just be more responsible and they wouldn't be fat; they ignore the overwhelming odds against the poor.
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    Nov 24, 2007 11:29 PM GMT
    I think there's some element of "let them eat cake" going on here.

    Junk food is more expensive than fresh foods. You can get a lot of greens for the price of a bag of doritos or a six pack of beer. At the grocery store, I have seen migrant laborers check out two cart loads of inexpensive staples for the price of my little basket of party food.

    But when you're really poor - and some of us have been there - you can basically afford cheap things that won't spoil, like rice, beans, macaroni, and ramen. Maybe you can scrape up enough for milk or tuna for a little protein. On that kind of a budget, fresh vegetables are a luxury. I suspect that those are the people that are referenced in these "studies."
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    Nov 24, 2007 11:48 PM GMT
    I think low income people who are obese or unhealthy probably don't have the skills to take care of themselves. For instance I know a Mexican family who are all overweight. The wife is a good cook, but her husband will only let her cook fried and hi calorie foods. A lot of times there is also an element of substance or alochol abuse or untreated mental illness. Our system does not know how to take care of these people. I have often seen street people starving who are then taken to hospital fattened up on unhealthy food and released.

  • Nov 25, 2007 12:12 AM GMT
    I think at least some of it has to do with education though as well.
    I figure the poorer you are the quality and extent of your education is
    going to be less than someone from a wealthier background.
    I hope that’s not too much of a generalization.
    I was talking with a friend, who comes from a much different background in middle America, about New York banning trans-fats and he didn’t even know what they are. That’s just an acute example of one person but if a large amount of people are from a similar background and are uneducated about food then how can we expect them to make healthy choices.
    I also agree with a lot of the posts that say unhealthy food is cheaper. Most probably because it’s mass produced from a lot of chemicals and not a lot of substance so the end product will obviously be cheaper. I also think if you’re a single mum working two jobs to support your kids then you’re very restricted as to what you can buy. For example, a lot of people buy food from Wal-Mart (now the third largest grocer in America) not because they like Wal-mart but because they are the cheapest and what they can afford.
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    Nov 25, 2007 12:16 AM GMT
    as some one who came from a low income family...there were many things that led to my obescity and some of my sisters...one was the lack of nutrition education, my parents first fed me stuff that was either cheap to buy or what their families` recipes from Guatemala that were really high in fats and calories...also, fatty foods were( and still are) cheap to buy...if you are on a budget back in the day, of course you were going to buy the cheaper food, especilly for a family of five( in some cases, family of 10 in my family), oh and the last reason I can think of was that my parents thought I was really skinny when I was kid, and gave me more portions and stuff, so much that later on I learned to develope horrible eating habbits of over eating, which, unfortunately, still haunt me to this day. Those are some thing I could think of coming from one of these low income families.
  • zakariahzol

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    Nov 25, 2007 1:40 AM GMT
    How to buy expensive healthy, organic , low fat food when you can bearly survive?. You need to put you feet on somebody else shoes. Low income people dont have the luxury of being choosy like rich people. When I was a young men ,working minimun wages in McDonald and have to work second job as a buss boy. I eat whatever left over from McD's and the cheapest food in the menu. If you work hard physical labour, sweating your ass you tend to love and stingy about money. The only reason I am thin then is because I cycle to work, burn calories carrying heavy dirty plate and working all the times. But being thin didnt mean I am healthy.
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    Nov 25, 2007 1:51 AM GMT
    no mindgarden

    We rarely had chips, but we had hotdogs, white bread, sam's club pizzas, lots of potatoes, white spaghetti, ramen noodles, mac n' cheese. All of which are less expensive than veggies. Buy fresh veggies, then try and prepare them for your family. Simple fact, if you are balancing a job and a family, hot dogs and mac n' cheese are easier than other foods. And go to the grocery store and see if white wonder bread is less expensive than whole grain breads. I guarantee it is.
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    Nov 25, 2007 1:52 AM GMT
    Exactly Zakariah!
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    Nov 25, 2007 2:56 AM GMT
    While I am not arguing the findings of the report that OW posted, I do not agree with the original supposition of this forum, from a personal perspective. I did not come from a "low income" family, and I hope that a 6 figure income is not considered "Low Income" now. I am a college graduate, from a family of college grads and still ended up being one of those "fat and unhealthy" pariaha's that many are so quick to snub and dismiss. I have been educated to understand that GENETICS set the stage for many facets of a person's life, like being GAY or the poor eating habits and choices a person makes. Yes, income does figure into the equation eventually, much like it does for your choice of housing, transportation, clothing, etc., but, you are also affected by environmental stressors, emotional issues, educational background, culture and traditions, medical issues, etc. All of these can become a sort of "catch 22", until, the person is able to change the equation in some purposeful and meaningful way. It may require a very drastic, even deparate, change, such as what I had to do.
    I always had fresh fruit/veggies, whole grains, healthy foods available and I ate them in abundance and still ended up weighing more than 400 lbs, before I was able to get control.....with major medical help.
    Genetics, education, desire/determiniation, income, exercise, etc, they all matter in the complex animal of man. Even our government has a part to play in this equation, especially when the meals provided for the truely low-income kids at school, has "Ketchup" listed as a "fresh vegetable"! Ever look at the sugar content of Ketchup or any of its other nutritional numbers? Please, just give out the raw tomatoes! LOL!

    In all honesty, my doctors and many nutritional classes, have told me that one of the biggest contributing factors to being "overweight" is the amount of water(H2O) that a person drinks. Not enough water, the body can't process properly. Too much and the essential nutients get flushed away too soon.
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    Nov 25, 2007 5:40 AM GMT
    Huh? Sporty, there's no supposition in my original post that all obesity is caused by inaccessibility to or failing to consume healthy food.

    In fact, I'm just raising the question whether this is a factor in obesity after reading the article. The studies don't even take that question in particular up. They examine overall health. But I think it's probably pretty easy to establish a correlation.

    Those of you who are questioning the basic facts need to read the article. This was an actual survey of actual consumption, availability and prices. The fact that you, personally, can go to your farmers' market and buy inexpensive produce doesn't mean everyone can:

    "People with more money eat more fruits and vegetables than those with less money, research shows. In turn, poorer people also assume a greater disease burden relative to their wealthier counterparts."

    ""Americans typically spend 15 percent of their food budget on fruits and vegetables but based on our price survey, low-income families would have to spend 40 to 70 percent of their budget on fruits and vegetables," Cassady said. "We really need to rethink what kind of educational campaigns, what kind of advice we need to give low-income families. The food stamp allocation could and probably should be increased and the government can do even better bringing in more farmers' markets and very low-cost sources of fruit and vegetables."



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    Nov 25, 2007 5:43 AM GMT
    Chewey, speaking of blue collars, you look really cute and sexy in that blue uniform.
  • Squarejaw

    Posts: 1035

    Nov 25, 2007 6:00 AM GMT
    The surveys conclusions are based on the recommendation of nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

    NINE??

    I have to struggle to get in the old recommendation of five (and I usually don't succeed).
    Can we start a mini survey here? How many of you get nine servings a day?
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    Nov 25, 2007 6:09 AM GMT
    Thanks ODubs; I was really bored at work last night and decided to get picture happy. icon_smile.gif
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    Nov 25, 2007 6:09 AM GMT
    Has anyone considered the pace most of us moveicon_question.gif Always on the go so no time for something healthy, only time for something from fast food drive thru. Families hardly have time to sit down to a nice dinner anymore. Joey comes home from school, does homework then Dad drives him to baseball pratice while Mom drops Susie off at soccer and runs to a PTO meeting.