If You Want To Lose Weight, Then Stop Being Poor
Does the size of your wallet correlate to the size of your waist line?
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a study conducted by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health revealed that obesity rates for poor adults were 9 percent higher than for the financially successful. The overweight-obesity rate for non-poor Philadelphia children is around 40 percent, while for poor kids, it’s almost a whopping 52 percent.
According to Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, similar reports have been done for the past 50 years starting with a survey done in New York in the 60′s where poor women were 6 times more likely to be fat, than women that were not poor. Poor men in New York were 2 times more likely, than nonpoor men.
As shown in Philadelphia and other metropolitan areas, less money in your purse doesn’t mean you will weigh less when you stand on the scale.
Why are the rich healthier?
There are a lot of hypotheses on this topic and why the lower your bank account funds, the higher your body fat:
- Rich people can afford gym memberships, fitness programs, and other equipment that poor people can’t.
- If you are more rich, than you have more freedom or time to focus on your health.
- There is a lack of confidence when you are financially struggling and health becomes less of a concern.
- Heavier women tend to marry men with less money. (this one is a bit comical, no matter how true or false it may be)
The question is how can people that have less money and eat less get heavier?
The truth is not in the amount of food people are eating, but the amount of the wrong types of foods they are eating.
Adam Drewnowski, a University of Washington epidemiologist, tells the Philadephia Inquirer that: “‘One of our biggest misconceptions is that it’s poor people’s fault. The poor, without access to healthy foods, are making the best possible choices under difficult circumstances.’”
Almost everyone would prefer not to be overweight or obese. So the question is are people making poor choices because they have no other option or they aren’t being educated on what are the right types of foods to eat.
So what are the right foods to eat?
Unfortunately some of the most unhealthy foods tend to be the easiest or cheapest to access. White flour, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and starches are the culprits. They exist in so many foods and many are very affordable like bread, pasta, chips, candy, sugar drinks, potatoes, etc. A healthier diet, or a diet focused on limiting fat, is more focused on lean protein like fish and chicken, complex carbs like vegetables, and healthy fats like nuts.
Meat, nuts, and other fresh natural foods tend to be more expensive. In a society where people struggle with time management and skyrocketing bills such as gas prices, it makes it more challenging than ever to eat healthy and get proper exercise.
Even without the exercise and just proper nutrition we would be in a better situation. Unfortunately our western diets become borderline addictive, specifically with sugars that have negative effects on our hormones similar to hard core drugs like crack and heroin. These foods not only are unhealthy, but don’t appease the appetite causing people to eat more and more calories.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, of University of California, men are eating 187 more calories and women are eating 335 more calories today than 20-25 years ago.
Guess where most of these extra calories are coming from? Bad carbs like flour and sugar.
We have seen this happen with many other cultures when Western diets high in simple carbs are introduced to them. A prime example was the change of the Pima tribe that went from being slender and lean up until the 1850′s when they were introduced to government rations and trading posts that sold flour and sugar.
This unhealthy style of eating not only leads to obesity, but the other diseases that come with it: diabeties, heart disease, and potentially cancer. Think now of the greater challenges that the poor will have to deal with financially for medical bills when they are introduced to these diseases at much earlier ages.
How Do We Solve This?
Well that answer will take more than a blog post. But I am curious…what do you think will make a difference here? Is this an economical issue, an education issue, or something else? Write away…