Thursday, May 1, 2008

Neighborhood's food options affect obesity rates (ya think?)

This article is partially correct. But I think it would be closer to the mark to say that a neighborhood's food options affect health (since the tendency for fat is 77% genetic).
I'm all for giving grocery stores who carry a wide variety of foods tax breaks and incentives for locating in poorer neighborhoods, but it's not going to do a whole lot of good if the people living in those neighborhoods can't afford the fresh/frozen fruits and veggies, all they can afford is the over-processed, cheap, calorie-dense foods.
I'm also all for improving walking/bike paths, and parks in those areas. But it does no good to have them if the area is not safe enough for them to be used. You can have all the space to exercise and walk that you want, but if I'm taking a big risk of being mugged/robbed/raped/whatever if I use those spaces, my safety is going to win out over taking a walk, riding bike, etc.
Just because people have access to a wide variety of food, and have options for exercise and avail themselves of those things doesn't mean they will automatically get thin (or go from "obese" to "overweight" or "overweight" to "normal"). It also doesn't automatically mean they will be healthier. They might be, but health is such an individual thing, that varies widely from person to person, there is no way of predicting who will benefit. None of this takes into consideration genetics or family history, it's just automatically assumed that if a fat person eats "right" and gets the recommended amount of exercise, they will no longer be fat, and therefore will be healthy.
What about the stress they encounter in their daily lives? That has an effect on health also. If peoples' lives aren't going to be made better by reducing the economic stress/stress from biases against POC/fat/poverty/whatever, all the healthy food in the world and no amount of exercise is going to make them truly healthy (since health is just more than physical, it's also mental, emotional, and spiritual). All of these stressors need to be addressed, not just the food and exercise segment of health.
And for these two morons:
Walking into a McDonald's in San Bernardino on Monday morning, Mark Olson, 48, and Linda Miller, 57, said people who are obese shouldn't blame anyone but themselves.
Just because there's a concentration of fast food outlets in a neighborhood doesn't mean residents can't make a sandwich and bring it to work, they said. And it's cheaper, too.
"People are just lazy," Miller said.

Yeah, fat people need to blame themselves because they didn't pick parents with the genes for being thin. They need to blame themselves because they are stuck in poverty (don't let them get a good education, don't make college affordable, and for all the gods' sake, don't end the prejudice that keeps them from getting hired at a company that pays well and has benefits so they can get out of poverty if they happen to luck out and get a good education).
And Ms. Miller and Mr. Olson, why aren't you eating a sandwich you made at home? It's cheaper, according to you. But do you both happen to be thin/average/"normal" and that's why it's ok for you to eat fast food? You're automatically "healthy" because you aren't fat? Give me a break, if fast food is unhealthy for fat people, it isn't any better for thin/average/"normal" people. Does your eating fast food mean you're lazy too? Oh, but if you're not fat, you obviously can't be lazy, only fat people are lazy. Yeah right, and if you believe all that, I have a bridge for sale.


  1. I think that our food choices do, to a degree, play a role in our body weight. But it is our genetic dispositions that play the key role in how it is our body reacts to and metabolizes those foods.

    And I always find it strange when thin people walk into a fast food restaurant (to apparently order a Big Mac and not just a Coke) or go to a buffet restaurant and then feel free to remark on the fat people who are also patronizing the establishment. Fast food is okay for them, but not anyone else? Fast food obviously doesn't make them fat, why do they assume it's the cause for the fatness of others? Do they really think fat people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day at McDonalds?

    There are fewer birkenstocks in poor areas, too, but that doesn't mean they have a thing to do with the poorer health seen in poor neighborhoods. Fat and thin eat no differently to explain the diversity of sizes (genetics is closer to 90%). Nor does food have the magical health effects they want us to believe. This story is political hype. It's easier to blame food and obesity than address the real problems poor people face.

  3. Amen. I'd add that it would also help a lot if the groceries and other stores that do locate in poorer neighborhoods don't practice discriminatory pricing. Here in Atlanta, for example, I've noticed a Kroger that's located in a neighborhood that has a lot of lower income residents consistently has higher prices than a Kroger in a more affluent area. The stores are barely four miles apart geographically so why the price difference other than a deliberate attempt to screw the poor? The low income customers tend to be dependent on walking to the market or taking the bus so are limited in their options; higher income customers usually have cars and can comparison shop (which is what I did, once I got to know better what was where after moving here last year).

  4. When in doubt, ask random people. They're always more informed than the so-called experts. Unless I missed the point of the last comment by the people engaging in the unhealthy, expensive food option?

  5. food has nothing to do with fat. geez.

    Our father who eats in heaven
    marshmallow be thy name
    thy kingdom, yum, thy bacon's done
    cheese dogs from 7-11
    give us seconds, keep us fed
    and forgive those who diet against you
    lead us not to Jenny Craig
    and deliver us more calories
    for thine is the breakfast, the lunch, the dinner, the snack

  6. That couple they quoted at the end are just privileged idiots. I live in San Bernardino County. Everything here is spread out - there are few concentrated "downtowns", and very few people live near where they work. If you don't have a car, you are stuck with the craptacular public transit system, which can turn what would be a 20 minute drive into a 2 hour bus ride. So it isn't just that poor people don't have access to affordable wholesome foods (and that is a major problem), it's that you need time to prepare food from scratch, and, if you bring food to work with you, you need someplace to store it until meal time, which are luxuries many don't have. This isn't a new issue; there's a reason why many fast food chains (including McD's) originated in this area. And yes, some poor people are lazy - but so are many middle class white collar workers. It's so classist when people complain about the high calorie meals at McD's but say nothing about the equally high calorie offerings at more upscale restaurants.

    (Sorry for the rant, but it's irritating to read the same tired BS over and over.)

  7. Just one more of the many dangers inherent in obesity myth. Everyone deserves access to healthy food, a safe place to exercise, stress reducers, and quality health care. If these things were affordable and available to all, the overall health of this country would improve tremendously.

    By focusing on fat as a marker of health, naturally thin people destroy their physical well-being through unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles. I have a branch on my family tree that is naturally thin. They live on Coke, baloney sandwiches and Little Debbies. They also have extremely high cholesterol, high BP, and a plethora of other chronic diseases. They think that we on the plumper branch of the family tree (who love veggies and all things organic)must be outrageous gluttons in comparison to them, given the crap they eat in a day.

  8. curvy angela - I think that's part of the problem with people fearing fat. Those that eat like crap and stay thin just know that fat people have to be eating even worse than they are in order to be fat. That's not always the case, but you can't convince them of that.


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