Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why Poor People Tend To Be More Overweight

In American society, the most overweight people also tend to be the poorest.  Why is that?  You would assume that the poorest people would be the thinnest.  If you believe in the "calorie in, calorie out" hypothesis, then this should be the outcome.  However, this simply isn't the case.  As Gary Taubes points out in his book "Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It", there are many cases where poor women tend to be fat while their children are malnourished.  Does this mean the women are hoarding all the food for themselves and letting their children starve?  Hardly.  In fact, it is all about nutrition.  It has to do with the women eating government subsidized foods heavy in sugar and carbohydrate which causes them to gain weight, but causes malnourishment in their children because these types of food lack essential vitamins and minerals to help them thrive.  Take, for example, the Pima Indians.  The Pima diet was traditionally heavy in fresh vegetables, little processed wheat, no sugar, and a moderate amount of meat.  The Pima, under their traditional diet, remained lean.  Enter the introduction of government subsidized wheat and sugar as part of their food allotments.  The consumption of highly refined carbohydrates and sugars increased dramatically due to the lower cost of these foods.  Next thing you know, the population gains a tremendous amount of weight, particularly the women.  There also happens to be an epidemic of adult onset diabetes and obesity among the Pima as well.

The U.S. government heavily subsidizes the corn industry.  Corn and grain products are so abundant it is unbelievable.  Because the ingredients are cheap, the food industry has managed to produce a huge amount of artificial, fake foods which are delicious tasting, filling, and cheap.  The profit margin on a bag of cheesy poofs, potato chips, and the like is huge.  Breakfast cereal is a perfect example.  Take some grain, process it, toss in a bunch of sugar to make it tasty, and then make a colorful box that gets the attention of children.  Put it on the shelf at just the right level so the kids see it.  Make a cartoon character like the Lucky Charms leprechaun or Tony the Tiger who make the cereal seem fun.  Or, even better, put Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan on the box and you have a financial winner!

Shopping at any grocery store is eye opening.  The most inexpensive foods are the ones with the most sugar and the most carbs.  60% of the grocery store center section is filled with candy, processed foods like instant mash potatoes, snacks, factory made bread, and pop (soda).  You have to go all the way through the store to get to the most nutritious foods, such as the dairy and the meat section.  This is all about money.  Then go through the checkout line.  You aren't going to find refrigerators filled with meat or vegetables.  The profit margin isn't large enough for those.  No, you will find chocolate bars, cold pop (soda), and candy.  This is the store's last chance to make some money, the junk food sitting next to the Star Magazine and the tabloids reporting the birth of the Bat Boy and three headed kittens.

None of this rules out the factor of individual taste.  Some people value taste more than nutrition.  Given the opportunity, there are many people who say "to hell with it" and eat whatever they want, the consequences be damned, regardless of cost.  In the end, this remains a person's right.  My contention is that if people just cut out the sugar, soda, candy, and reduced their consumption of carbohydrates, they would already be making some progress toward improving their health.  

Eating low-carb to control your weight and promote your health is more expensive than eating lots of processed foods.  This puts the poor at a disadvantage.  Fresh meat and fresh vegetables are more expensive than eating lots of macaroni and cheese or Ramen Noodles.  There are things you can do to reduce your costs, however, such as buying fresh, pasture raised meat from a local farmer, growing your own vegetables, and making use of canning and freezing garden vegetables.  Eggs are an an inexpensive form of protein.  Hot dogs are cheaper than steaks, but you certainly don't want to be eating hot dogs every day.  Store brand canned tuna is also inexpensive.  Deer meat donated by hunter friends is also a real bargain, particularly when the hunter has had a good year and caught more than his family can eat.


1 comment:

  1. Besides the Vit C, E, Fish Oil and multi Vit B has worked wonders.
    Vitamin D