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Obesity Paradox Essay

2240 words - 9 pages

What is your vision of someone living in poverty? Images from across the world often depict people who are underweight, malnourished and frail looking. But in America, the picture of poverty is quite different. A great percentage of people living in poverty in the United States are obese. Although some argue that those in poverty are just lazy, choosing to eat junk food and live off the government, they fail to see the bigger picture. It is not a matter of people being lazy, nor is it their choice of food. It is a matter of the ability to obtain fresh wholesome foods. Living in the land of plenty, one is led to believe that healthful food is always available, but for some it is not ...view middle of the document...

Since the 1950's, fast food chains have boomed across America offering up a cheap, easy meal. Supermarkets burst at the seams with isles and isles of boxed and canned goods stuffing the shelves with unending sales, while the meek little produce isle prices continue to rise. It is no surprise that someone in poverty would choose to hit up McDonalds or Burger King for a one dollar hamburger and fries instead of going to the farmers market for a head of lettuce at the same cost. According to the USDA, a family of four (two adults and two children age five and under) could afford a healthful meal for $120.90/week as of February 2011. (http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2011/CostofFoodFeb2011.pdf )This budget is based on a “thrifty food plan”. For someone living in poverty, who is already struggling to keep a roof over their head, $121 a week is a lot of money. Many days, families in poverty are lucky if they get one meal a day, and whether or not that food is healthy is the least of their worries.
Last year alone, the national school lunch program (NSLP) provided 31.6 million children daily with a free or reduced cost meal. (http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/child-nutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program.aspx#.UqN4243LF3U) To qualify for the free lunch, a child’s family must be at or below 130 percent poverty level, which averages out to be around $31,300 per year for a family of four. For the reduced cost lunch, one must be between 130-185 percent of the poverty level. 185 percent of the poverty level for a family of four is right around $43,000 per year.
(http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/NSLPFactSheet.pdf) For many children, this might be the only meal they get in a day, yet it is filled with highly processed, sugary ingredients in order for the schools to meet their budget while following the FDA recommended guidelines. It is worth noting that schools that do utilize the NSLP receive a $2.74 subsidy for every free meal served and get food supplies from the USDA and “bonus” foods from agricultural surpluses.
Other food programs are available through the government for individuals in poverty such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Women, infants and Children (WIC) program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. However, in order to qualify for these programs families must have a pretty meager income. Most often, if a family does qualify and then increases their income, the assistance is ended, leaving the family struggling to make ends meet once again. With the programs not allowing for a family to get ahead before benefits end, there is no possibility for a family to improve their quality of life. Take for example, a single woman working full-time on a minimum wage salary of $7.25 an hour. Her gross monthly income only amounts to $1256.00 per month, just barely above poverty level. Take out rent and bills and there is very...

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