What's up with poverty and obesity?

On the front page of www.msn.com today, there’s a story about poor black people on the Gulf coast. It has a picture of a woman that looks, uh, well-fed. I’ve noticed that among a lot of poor people, morbid obesity seems to be common. This is counter-intuitive. Why would those who are the least able to afford food be so large? Is it an education thing? Is it that junk food is cheaper than healthy food?

That’s probably the most important factor. Junk food, with lots of carbs and processed sugars, is a lot cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats.

That’s exactly what it is- it’s easier, cheaper, to eat food that’s bad for you, because those foods are cheaper to manufacture.

There seems to be truth in the last sentence, I would think. I would also think that the over abundance of MacDonalds, Crispy Cremes, Waffle House’s and Jack-in-the Box’s down south I would particularly think that their diet is almost forced to be poor. When I was in the Air Force living in Florida, in the pan handle, there was nothing BUT these chains of fat houses. The nice restaurants were too much even for military personnel.

Obesity was even common for GI’s that lived in the area for a lengthy duty period.

I think the key word here is LAZY, though I’m not sure how people accumulate enough food to become obese when they’re that lazy.

Even excluding fast food, the cheapest way to feed a family is on stuff like Kraft mac n’ cheese, ramen noodles, potatoes, cheap (fatty) ground beef, and rice. Lots of high starch foods.

Disagree. It’s trivially easy to have a busy lifestyle and still put on the pounds if your diet consists primarily of high-calorie junk with lots of sugars and carbohydrates. Calories are cheap; nutrition is not.

If you’re not joking, I’m going to request a cite.

I wonder if the negative perceptions regarding fat/unattractive also create a self-fullfilling prophacy. People tend to assume good looks/in shape means successful, hard working, smart, etc. There is evidence that looks are a factor in job hirings, raises and promotions.

The times are changing
Now the poor get fat
But the fever’s gonna catch you
When the bitch gets back

Elton John was hip to it.

Um… or Bernie Taupin, actually.

Don’t forget that biologically speaking, when we’re hungry, and then we get food, we tend to overeat. The body stores excess calories as fat. If a person is a) not getting a particularly well-balanced diet to start with and b) overeating at every opportunity, there will be a lot of excess calories.

There is also a societal issue as well. If you walk/drive around the poorest neighborhoods, you’ll notice a dearth of two common suburban fixtures: banks and supermarkets.

Assigning as little blame as possible (so the thread doesn’t end up as some political debate), I’ll try to relay what I’ve learned over the years …

Ever since the Great Depression, when many black people were screwed over by banks, there has been a fair amount of distrust. So there aren’t banks because there’s not much demand, and there’s not much demand because there are no banks that are convinient.

The same scenario plays out with supermarkets. I’m not sure why supermarkets aren’t located in the inner city (perhaps it’s zoning, perhaps fear of robbery), but it’s been that way for years, and now people who grew up in the inner city sipmly aren’t accustomed to buying groceries at a supermarket. It’s not uncommon for a poor family to eat at McDonald’s every single day, simply because (a) you don’t have to spend time cooking, (b) it’s cheap, and © the kids like it. Foods that are cooked at home are usually pre-processed and bought at a local convinience store.

It’s not as simple as people being lazy. Many poor families are single-parent homes where the single parent works 12 hours a day or multiple jobs (which, of course, exacerbates the problem through reasons (a) and (b) above). Kids left on their own inevitably end up making poor food decisions, and the cycle moves on to another generation.

The answer, likewise, is not as simple as getting, say, a bank to move into a neighborhood. You have to convince residents to use it, teach them how to use it well, make sure the bank isn’t taking advantage of naivete, etc, etc. Many inner city redevelopment advocates (Boston’s Ten Point Coalition is the one I’m most familiar with) have sought to address these problems on a large level - using political power to try and bring businesses into the inner city, using education to try and break cycles of poverty/obesity/physical abuse, etc.

Not only does a better diet arguably cost more, it takes time. Keeping fresh meats and vegetables in the house requires shopping more often than serving up canned and boxed dinner o’starchness. Homemade soup is more nutritious and can be just as cheap to prepare for a family of five as mac’n’cheese and hot dogs, but only if you’ve got time to shop for the fresh ingredients and chop everything. Working one or more low-rent jobs just to get by usually doesn’t lend itself to thoughtful meal planning.

A lot of poor people have to work really crappy hours to stay poor, too. Hard to get out and exercise regularly when you have two jobs and a family to support. And, the aforementioned cheap junkfood, which is a lot more available and easier to prepare on a budget, with time constraints, than real food. Factor in lack of education about good fitness practices and you get roly-poly poor folk…

Uhh, yeah, what they said, and better. (Preview, preview, preview!)

Welcome aboard yerba buena! :slight_smile:

Laziness is a key factor, but it’s hot down there, I never excercised outdoors, only because we had an on-base Gymn. I don’t ever recall a commercial gymn you could join that was worth paying money. Not that I’m making excuses or anything. That, and there is really nothing to do down there unless your 21-28 years of age.

You obviously know absolutely nothing about either nutrition or poor people.

As a professional cook, I despise “health” food on principle. For some reason, the things that people see as “healthy” always seem to require much more complicated preparation, or simply take too damn long to cook (I’m looking at you, grilled chicken!)

When I make myself something to eat at work, I have pancakes, or biscuits & gravy, or a big fat cheeseburger. I take myself out to other restaurants where I eat pizza, cheeseburgers and milkshakes. When I’m at home, I don’t feel like going through lengthy preparations, so I eat frozen pizzas and burritos and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.

I drink at least three liters of Mountain Dew every single day.

I’m 5-foot-8 and weigh about 160 lbs. I’m actually a little bit underweight.

How is this possible? It’s simple, really: I get off my ass and do something physical! I don’t sit in front of the TV shoveling Fritos and candy and Moon Pies into my face every day. And you don’t need a health club membership to maintain a decent weight. You can do something as simple as bicycling to work on a regular basis.

He seems to have a handle on prejudice, though.