Want To Solve The Obesity Crisis? Fight Poverty, Not Poor People

I want to highlight a few points in this article, even though the title says it all.

Want To Solve The Obesity Crisis? Fight Poverty, Not Poor People, Wired UK, 27 May 2018

People with lower incomes pay more – outright – for the same goods and services that higher-income people purchase. They also pay more indirectly, compared to those with higher-incomes, because necessary purchases take up a larger portion of their income. Similar to regressive taxes.

While we all need to eat healthier and exercise more the issues among low income groups are more complex. Those on low incomes pay what is called a ‘poverty premium’ for goods and services. They end up paying more – out of their lesser incomes – for services such as electricity, the internet and rent [and I’ll add for here in the US, healthcare]. They don’t have access to credit so cannot take advantage of online offers of cheap goods. They often live in areas where access to healthy and affordable food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, is limited.

And this point, which I’ve been making for years (See my latest post on it, The Physician Boondoggle):

Data shows that the rich are more deficient in cooking skills than those on low incomes but do we hector them to learn how to cook? We don’t need to, as their diets are generally healthy for other reasons mainly to do with income, they can buy fresh fruit and vegetables and not worry about them going to waste a luxury not available to all on low incomes. For people on lower incomes, however, it is nearly impossible to purchase a healthy food basket, even if they wanted to.

And this point, which I’ve also posted about (See my post, “Hunger” Is Big Business):

Food charity developments such as food banks need to be seen for what they are – failures of the system not as celebrations of community good but, as one of my colleagues put it, “a symbol of our society’s failure to hold government accountable for hunger, food insecurity and poverty.”

“Why are you talking about food banks existing, if you don’t talk about why they exist, … It’s like pouring water into a boat that’s leaking.

It isn’t only poor people who are pressed to eat poorly. The medium income in this country hovers just under $60,000/year for a family; half the population makes more than that, half less. I’ve worked that out to about $6 for each meal – not $6 for one person, $6 for 3 or 4 or 5 people … a family. Two-for-one deals on fast food are attractive for millions of Americans because they are convenient, inexpensive, and tasty.

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