Does Poverty Lead To Obesity?

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A recent article from AOL Health cites a study from the University of Washington that found that the percentage of obese shoppers is almost 10 times higher at low-cost grocery stores compared with more upscale stores and that poverty is the key reason. The article is basically claiming that obesity is an economic problem.

It’s kind of like saying that crime goes up as ice-cream sales increase. Is there some hidden ingredient in that pint of Haagen Dazs that drives people to criminal acts? Or is there another variable – summertime – that links crime and ice-cream and is the true impetus of the higher crime rate? It’s obvious that the long hot days of summer are the missing link and ice-cream sales and the crime rate are not connected.

Similarly, I’m suggesting that it is not poverty that is driving obesity but another “missing link” that is connected to both.

The Missing Link is Education.

And to be clear, I acknowledge economics will play a large role in where you purchase groceries – you won’t be shopping at Whole Foods if your income is low. But even at a discount grocery store, you can make the choice of apples over Apple Jacks.

Having hit some tough economic times myself recently (remember, I’m bankrupt!) I understand the challenges of eating healthy on a tight budget. Below are a few tips that have helped me keep things as healthy as possible without breaking the bank.

1. Prepare your own vegetables.

I love the convenience of pre-cut veggies. Broccoli florets in a bag, pre-washed baby spinach in a bag, pre-peeled carrots in a bag – all great for time saving in the kitchen. But you do pay a higher price for the time saving. So if you are in a situation where your money is tight, then you have to spend another currency – your time. Buy the whole head of broccoli and cut it yourself. Buy loose spinach leaves and wash and cut them yourself (I like to use scissors). Peel your own damned carrots. The extra labor will keep things lighter on your wallet.

2. The incredible edible egg.

You can get a dozen large eggs for about $2.00 in many grocery stores. And don’t waste any of that money you spent – eat the damned yolks! They are proven to help you lose belly fat…

3. The other white meat.

Pork loin is almost always significantly cheaper than chicken breast or beef. So if you’re down with the swine, it can be a cheaper source of protein.

4. Bend the rules.

I’m not a big fan of dairy. And I’m not a big fan of potatoes. But these are two sources that can really stretch your food dollars. So go ahead an buy that big-ass bag of potatoes. Go ahead and get that gallon of whole milk. Although these diversions from my normal recommendations might not be ideal for fat loss efforts, they are still a hell of a lot better than cheap bread or pasta. And they are WAY better than some pre-packaged mac and cheese or ramen noodle crap.

I’m going to stick my neck out there and say that poverty is not an excuse for obesity.

I’ll stick it out there even further and say that neither is lack of education – libraries are still free and as long as you can read, the basic knowledge of a healthy diet is easily accessible.


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