Research: Low-Income Obese Kids

A new study attempts to debunk the claim that low-income kids are obese because they’re only eating cheap high-calorie low-nutrient food. Amy Lorentzen of the Associated Press has more:
For the study, the researchers analyzed 1999 data about 1,031 children living in low-income households in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio. They assessed whether the children had enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle, which is called food security by researchers. They looked at the individual child instead of the child's entire household, as previous studies had done.

The researchers asked each child's mother whether she had reduced the size of a meal due to lack of food or money, whether her child skipped a meal because food was not available, and whether her child went hungry because she could not afford more food.

They found that about half of the children in the study were overweight or obese, while only about 8 percent weren't getting enough to eat.

Craig Gundersen, lead author of the study, said children who did not get enough food were not more likely to be overweight, even though the two factors often coexisted in the low-income population they studied.

He said the study shows that if the government tries to expand food assistance programs to help children, officials can move forward without worrying about an increase in overweight children living in poverty.
I got to admit. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around this study, but Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jennifer Petrillo, MD was fired up about it. Here’s what she had to say:
This study is ridiculous. It says poor kids are getting enough to eat so they can't figure out why so many of them are fat! It's WHAT they're eating!
Dr. Petrillo is right. Simply put, I think we’re talking about an issue of quality over quantity. Dr. Fuhrman discusses this paradox in his new Food Scoring Guide. Here’s an excerpt:
Modern America is in the midst of an all-you-can-eat food fest that has us literally bursting at the seams. Clearly, we eat too much and too often, but we also eat all the wrong foods. The standard American diet now consists of 52% processed foods and 41% meats and dairy products. The most healthful foods—fruits and vegetables—make up only 7% of our national diet.

Eating the wrong foods leads us to consume far too many calories. The average American consumes 3600 calories per day, nearly twice as many as wee need. However, because all of these excess calories come from low-nutrient foods, most Americans are significantly undernourished. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that an astonishing 95% of all Americans fail to get the minimum daily requirement of nutrients. When you factor in the sedentary lifestyle most Americans have adopted (three out of ten American adults did not exercise even once last year), you have the perfect recipe for the obesity and chronic illness epidemics that are sweeping the nation.
Well now, this sure seems to address the crux of the problem. It always bothers me when I drive through low-income neighborhoods and see wall-to-wall fast food restaurants.
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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
LLouise - January 23, 2008 1:47 PM

I know. These studies drive me nuts too! They are so incomplete and don't take into consider all the components. Frustrating!

Lots of politics and social/cultural issues involved too. :(

Gerry Pugliese - January 23, 2008 2:05 PM

Hey Llouise-

Yeah, this study seems very topsy-turvy. Like I said, I'm still scratching my head over it.

Social/cultural issues are huge with this. I go into NYC fairly often and you really see it there. I think its a major problem.


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