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The Poverty And Obesity Epidemic Essay

2646 words - 11 pages

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 paychecks are distributed on a monthly basis, so
if a family gets food stamps or a paycheck, the family will use these resources until they run out.
Often food stamps can be depleted before the next distribution. When food stamps run out, there
is an involuntary restriction of food. The hypothesis suggests that the cycle of food restriction at
the end of the month followed by bingeing would promote weight gain. (Townsend) The main
reasons for obesity and overweight in low-income groups would be periodic food restriction and a
poor nutritional diet due to financial restrictions.
Need
Hunger and obesity affect many different types of people; however, one of the most
affected groups is the female-headed family. According to Bread for the World, in 2003, 28% of
female-headed families were in poverty, compared to 12.5% of the total population. In 2003, the
poverty line was $14,824 for a single mother with two children; however, this amount was not
enough to meet the needs of that family according to a Wider Opportunities for Women estimate.
A mother with two young children would need between $17,713 and $33,170 in 2003. (Bread for
the World) Therefore a huge portion of these families does not have enough money to...

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