The Poverty and Obesity Epidemic

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In the United States, as of 2001, 34% of the population was overweight. (Townsend) Overweight and obesity would seem to be problems associated with the United State’s wealth and more than sufficient food supply. Much attention in recent years has been paid to people becoming more physically fit and changing their diets to become healthier. Gastric bypass surgery has become a popular choice for people trying to overcome extreme obesity. The operation limits “food intake by creating a narrow passage from the upper part of the stomach into the larger lower part, reducing the amount of food the stomach can hold and slowing the passage of food through the stomach.” (NIDDK) The presence of this emphasis on health and nutrition would seem to be the solution to our nation’s obesity problem. However of the population with moderate food insecurity, 52% were overweight. (Townsend) Food insecurity exists when the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways is limited or uncertain. Over half of the United State’s population with a threat of hunger is overweight. Why would obesity be more prevalent amongst this group of people with fewer resources? Dieting and surgery do not address the problems of the economic groups with the most severe weight and nutrition problems. Surgery is expensive, and people with limited resources are not likely to buy expensive health foods when there are cheaper alternatives that satisfy hunger. The “Dollar Menu” at McDonald’s is certainly less expensive than preparing a wellbalanced meal. Another reason for obesity in lower income groups is a theory called the “food stamp cycle” hypothesis. Food stamps and most paych... ... middle of paper ... ...urity and Obesity in Rural Women Task Force for the Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty. Community with Children and the Poor. Nashville, Tennessee: Cokesbury, 2003. Townsend, Marilyn S., Janet Peerson, Bradley Love, cheryl Achterberg, and Suzanne P. Murphy (2001). “Food Insecurity is Positively Related to Overweight in Women.” Journal of Nutrition, 131, 1738-1745. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences. U.S. Conference of Mayors – Seduxho USA. Hunger and Homelessness Survey 2004. 3-5,42 Report2004.pdf Weil, Andrew. Eating Well for Optimum Health. New York: Random House, 2000. Willet, Walter C. Eat Drink and Be Healthy. New york: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
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