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Obesity and the Poor

Mar 11, 2008
In 2002 obesity among the poor climbed 147%, according to www.medicinenet.com. Those in the poverty level are the fastest growing group when it comes to obesity. Often the reasons they are obese are due to things largely out of their control. Obesity among the poor can be attributed to many things however the most common are lack of exercise, food choices and no access to health food stores or supermarkets.

Living in government assisted housing, commonly known as "projects" is something many of the impoverished live in everyday. The projects are home to gangs, shootings, and other more serious crimes. Many children and families report this as the number one reason they do not get out an exercise. Projects often do not have playgrounds, sidewalks or lawns where families or children can play. If there is a playground near by often it is a central meeting place for gangs and gang activity, again making it a less than ideal hang out for children or individuals looking for a place to exercise.

Imagine living off of Cup O'Noodle, macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper every night for dinner. This is a reality of those on food stamps or other food assistance programs. Trying to eat healthy on food stamps is near impossible. Often those who use foods stamps have many mouths to feed and they need to stretch the money as far as it will go. The Department of Human Services suggests buy cheep staple foods. Families who are on food stamps do not care how healthy or unhealthy a dinner or lunch is as long as their families are eating.

Eating healthy is not cheap, organic foods and other food substitutes such as Egg Beaters or tofu are not items on low income families grocery lists. Often they do not have grocery lists at all because there are no grocery stores anywhere near their homes and lugging $400.00 worth of groceries on a bus alone is not easy. Many do not buy fresh fruits or vegetables since one they can not afford to buy fresh produce every week and two there is no where in the inner city to buy these items.

Large cities such as New York, Chicago or Los Angles often lack a supermarket or health food store in close proximity to inner city living. Many project tenets go grocery shopping at Circle K's or Quickie Marts since they are close to their homes. Sciencedaily.com reports one of the leading reasons for obesity among the poor is lack of grocery stores in their neighborhoods. There are no farmers markets offering organic produce or health food stores with tofu, these people get what they can at corner markets.

Being poor is no reason to let your health suffer. However when it comes to trying to better yourself or become more healthy, the odds are defiantly against you if you are in the low income bracket. It has become more important then ever to take care of yourself regardless of your income level. The rising costs of health care are not going down, and by being obese you are not part of the solution.
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