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Old 05-14-2010, 01:17 PM   #1  
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Default Obesity Linked to Lowest Earnings

The results showed that people earning the lowest wages were more likely to have weights in the obese range, or BMIs of 30 or greater. People living in the southern United States -- where state minimum-wage levels are among the lowest -- were more likely to be obese than people in other regions.
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Old 05-14-2010, 01:39 PM   #2  
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I'll buy that! Haven't read the study, but from personal experience, when you only have $20 for groceries, oodles of noodles, rice, instant mash potato, and high fat ground beef are about all you can afford to buy and expect to feed your family until payday. Sad. . .
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Old 05-14-2010, 01:44 PM   #3  
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In the U.S. obesity has been linked to coffee consumption compared to tea drinkers. In Brittain a recent study found the opposite - coffee drinking were thinner than tea drinkers.

I suspect (and the researchers in the Brittain study also suggested) that the link was poverty. In the U.S. the poorest people are more likely to drink coffee less likely to drink tea. In Brittain the reverse is true.

I think there are a lot of economic and social factors involved. Just one of those factors is the fact that fattening foods are the cheapest (in modern, technologically advanced societies). Depression (also not the sole propriety of the poor, but more common among the poor) also tends to result in carb-cravings (as people try to self-medicate with food).

Obesity is a complex problem. No matter how much we try to boil it down to a simple issue (calories in/ calories out), it's often a very multi-faceted problem.

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Old 05-16-2010, 02:53 PM   #4  
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I really don't think the problem is that unhealthy food is the cheapest food--I mean, you can't get cheaper than bulk rice and bulk beans, and bulk frozen vegetables are not bad--but that unhealthy food is the cheapest pleasure, and people need some sort of pleasure in life. I honestly don't think it's the fatty hamburger and instant mashed potatoes, even, that are making people fat--it's Little Debbies, where you can get 2500 completely empty calories for $1.29. When you have to deny yourself almost everything you want because you can't afford it--no movies, no cable, no internet, no shopping, no new clothes or nice things of any sort--it's really hard to deny yourself the one pleasure you can afford. And let's face it, a fifty cent candy bar or a 99 cent Frosty or a $2 bag of chips pack a LOT of pleasure.
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Old 05-16-2010, 03:24 PM   #5  
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Pleasure plays a role certainly, but it's by far, not the only one.

Cost/availability/lack of transportation/educational level/safety of the neighborhood/food storage space/family size.....

Research has found that in many areas the poorest people actually pay more for their food than middle income families. In areas where safe, reliable, and affordable transportation are lacking, the poorest people get their food from the nearest sources, which often times is convenience stores (where fresh foods may be unavailable at any price).

This is often true in urban communities, but also in some small and mid-sized towns also (which may have no public transportation).

Often lack of education (particularly nutritional education) is a problem among the poor. For that matter, nutritional education isn't very common in any income bracket. Meals of macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwhiches and tomato soup, Spaghetti and garlic bread feeds a crowd and are filling. They'r also not usually seen as "unhealthy" and in the context of a diet with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies occasional meals like this aren't a problem. But if fruits and vegetables aren't afforadable, available, palatable or utilized, these "healthy meals" aren't so healthy.

Even rice and beans are not so healthy, if you've got diabetes (and many of the poor do). And bulk frozen vegetables may not be such a great idea if you don't have a reliable refrigeratior (which is often common. Also many of the poorest, often have their electricity turned off periodically for non-payment of the bill. Frozen vegetables, even if they're available aren't a good choice if you've got an unreliable fridge or get the electricity turned off periodically). Also, many of the poor are virtually or periodically homeless. They may be crashing on a friends couch, or they may face eviction, or they may not buy food to store, for fear of theft from family members and/or strangers. They may not know how to cook, may not have the utensils to do so, or they may not have a reliable stove (or again the electricity issue).

I'm not making these scenarios up, I saw most of them as a probation officer (in a relatively small, mostly middle-class, mostly low-crime midwestern community). No one lived less than two miles from a decent grocery store, but without transportation, two miles might as well be twenty, if you don't have a car and suffer from health problems.

In urban, and high-crime areas there are other problems - like the safety of the neighborhoods. Many urban families don't allow the children to "go and play" because it isn't safe. Taxis won't come to certain neighborhoods (or charge insane extortion-level prices) and walking to or from a grocery store with large amounts of food is an invitation for mugging (or home-invasion while you're gone).

Food banks routinely get in starch and fat. Protein, (unsweetened) fruits and vegetables are almost nonexistent. You'll get jam, peanut butter, and bread, but vegetables? Probably not.

These are only some of the problems that people of lower income face (not all of them confined to the poor). You can't simplify this problem into any one factor.
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:26 PM   #6  
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I actually am in the camp that does think obesity is simple calories in/calories out. That said I agree with the posts previous to mine re transportation, nutrition education and the point made about the Little Debbies as well, and that there are many factors that contribute to the management of that calories in/calories out equation. However, I believe the basic fact that drives obesity IS simple. It is the solution that is complex.

It should be remembered, though, that many people with lower incomes, lower educational levels, etc., are capable of tremendous change in all aspects of their lives, including weight management, and do in fact overcome obstacles and succeed in accomplishing positive things.

Last edited by Amarantha2; 05-16-2010 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 04:24 PM   #7  
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I really don't think the problem is that unhealthy food is the cheapest food--I mean, you can't get cheaper than bulk rice and bulk beans, and bulk frozen vegetables are not bad--but that unhealthy food is the cheapest pleasure, and people need some sort of pleasure in life.

I agree with you that unhealthy food is a cheap pleasure, but I disagree with you about the bulk foods. Food can be cheaper in bulk - you just have to know your prices - but most places that sell bulk foods are membership clubs like Sam's or Costco. The places cost at least $50 per year for the membership alone, and those living in poverty on the fine edge of having nothing just don't have that kind of money.

However, I believe the basic fact that drives obesity IS simple. It is the solution that is complex.

Not everyone is affected by calories in/calories out the same way, which you did acknowledge in your post. Metabolisms for different people work differently, and it is harder for some people to lose weight than others. However, notice that I said harder and not impossible. I do believe that everyone who is overweight or obese can lose weight, I just don't think there's a one-size-fits-all plan for everyone. In other words, I think calorie in/calories out may be oversimplifying the issue a little too much. I do appreciate, though, that you are stating what you believe and are not treating the issue with any sort of smugness and that you have taken in opposing viewpoints.

I know this is a little OT, but I feel that this post has provided a nice segue for me to talk about something I've been thinking about for a while. We seem to have a real cultural duality when it comes to being overweight and obese. On the one hand, we're running around going "Obesity epidemic! Obesity epidemic! The sky is falling! We're all so fat!" On the other, we still take the position of "If you're fat you must be lazy and stupid and there's something wrong with you."
I have to wonder, which one is it? If there are a lot of people in the US that are overweight and obese and that number keeps growing, can it really be the result of individual "immorality?" As a country are we all that "bad," or is there something else here? I think that the duality may be an attempt to avoid examining a complex cultural issue that intertwines the individual and the social. We notice it - we can hardly avoid it - but then we retreat back to the comfortable judgement of "it must be all the fatty's fault."
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Old 05-17-2010, 04:41 PM   #8  
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And we're only talking about food here, and not exercise, and who has the time to exercise, and whether streets are safe enough to walk or run on, and who has access to safe parks & paths for being active on, and who can pay for gym memberships, or can afford exercise equipment, and who won't have a landlord evict them for thumping noises ....

This is part of why I call defined abs on women a "trophy stomach."

Such a stomach like is a golden trophy because it says their owner watches what she eats & works out & spends time on herself. In contemporary U.S. culture, it's generally more affluent women who are able to do this.
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Old 05-17-2010, 04:57 PM   #9  
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Then there's the other side of this "which came first?", does the fat individual get the same opportunity for raises and promotions?
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