Poverty's Diet Strain
Poverty is more than a fiscal problem. It can also affect health. Canadian researchers have determined that poor households end up eating nutritionally risky diets. Alan Mozes HealthDay News reports:
The new study is the first to show that food insecurity directly translates into poor nutrition. It also suggests that in such homes, adults and teens, rather than very young children, are the most likely to be subsisting on diets low in vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, grains and meat.The poor—I hate using that term—do take quite the health hit. It comes up in the news all the time. Let’s look at some previous reports. First, from the Associated Press, Why are U.S. Kids Obese. Here’s a bit:
"Over the long term, [food insecurity] could be expected to precipitate and complicate diet-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease," cautioned study co-author, Sharon Kirkpatrick, a doctoral candidate in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto…
…The study highlights similar estimates for 2006, suggesting that 12.6 million U.S. households experience food insecurity, while 4.6 million have one or more family members going without food. Recent Canadian research indicates that just over 9 percent of households are food-insecure.
Against such numbers, Kirkpatrick and Tarasuk set out to analyze eating habits, detailed in interviews conducted by Statistics Canada between 2004 and 2005. The survey included 35,000 Canadians between the ages of 1 and 70 drawn from all socioeconomic groups.
"The environment that they live in matters," said Lisa Powell of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who studied restaurant and food store options in the neighborhoods and food-related television advertising aimed at teens.Next up, Paige Parker of The Oregonian tells us why poor kids are at a high-risk of packing on extra summer vacation pounds. Take a look:
She said when people cannot get to supermarkets but instead must rely on the convenience stores that proliferate in many poor neighborhoods, families end up eating less healthy food.
A new study highlighted the summer weight-gain phenomenon among young children. Researchers in the Midwest looked at the body mass index, which relates height to weight, of 5,380 students. They followed them for two years, from kindergarten through first grade, and found the average index grew more than twice as quickly over the summer than during the school year.Now Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News explains that low-income children face a heighten chance of being obese, even before they are out of diapers. Check it out:
Children of the working poor may be especially at risk because they are left indoors while their parents are at jobs. While at home, kids eat and drink what they want, says Dr. Jennifer Bass, a pediatrician who chairs a national pediatricians special-interest group on obesity. Bass estimates as many as 30 percent of her patients are overweight.
"The message is that we're seeing overweight and obesity at younger ages than we thought possible," said study author Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, a health and society scholar at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "It's a particular problem in lower-income communities, and it's something we need to keep an eye on and prevent as much as possible."Finally, this report looks out way the poor and immigrants living in New York City are waist-deep in the diabetes epidemic. More from N.R. Kleinfield of The New York Times:
According to Kimbro, there's been little research into weight problems among very young children. But, studies have shown high rates of obesity among older children and teenagers.
In the new study, the researchers examined surveys of parents who had children from 1998 to 2000 in 20 large U.S. cities. The parents lived in urban areas and were poor.
New York, perhaps more than any other big city, harbors all the ingredients for a continued epidemic. It has large numbers of the poor and obese, who are at higher risk. It has a growing population of Latinos, who get the disease in disproportionate numbers, and of Asians, who can develop it at much lower weights than people of other races.Frightening news, no doubt it compounds when you consider that most low-income families either have limited or no insurance. Makes you wonder how much better the state of American healthcare would be if everyone starting eating a nutrient-dense diet!
It is a city of immigrants, where newcomers eating American diets for the first time are especially vulnerable. It is also yielding to the same forces that have driven diabetes nationally: an aging population, a food supply spiked with sugars and fats, and a culture that promotes overeating and discourages exercise.
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