Poverty and Obesity

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Saving Poverty From Obesity
Brent Royeton
DeVry University

Saving Poverty From Obesity
Obesity is a problem that most people would assume is caused by laziness and poor lifestyle choices. Rarely would anyone think that poverty could be a contributing factor to obesity. A large question often asked is “How can our impoverished communities be so fat if they cannot afford to eat”? Other misconceptions come from the misunderstanding that people who are malnourished should appear skinny and lethargic, where malnutrition is a lack of proper nutrition that not only could lead to starvation, but can lead to weight gain as well. When identifying the association of poverty to obesity, there are many sociological, as well as environmental factors that contribute to the explosion of the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our nation. There is now a vast amount of data that range from simple sociological observations, to independent, and governmental case studies that would also suggest the connection to being poor, and being overweight cannot simply be attributed making poor lifestyle choices or being lazy alone. With the overwhelming amount of evidence that connects poverty to obesity, there should be a focus on better nutritional education, supported by regulations that would provide low-income communities with the access to healthier foods along with mandates that would provide better nutritional options to choose from. In these modern times, one only needs to tune into any media outlet to be bombarded with advertising of all forms of products. The majority of these ads are dominated by food advertising. From TV and radio, to the internet, there is a non-stop stream of ads pushing corn chips and candy, as well as featured menu items of fast food chains. People learn from advertising, that it is socially acceptable to gorge on unhealthy foods, and that a “Happy Meal” is okay for every meal. One of the most problematic mechanisms is the use of advertising aimed at children. A report to the congress in 2004, suggested that “trends in the use of children’s favorite media characters to help sell foods may well be a link to advertising and obesity” and was reinforced by Surgeon General Richard Carmona who had said "Over the past 20 years, the rates of overweight doubled in children and tripled among adolescents," with the result that "15 percent of American adults are overweight or obese" this same report also contained a statement from Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who said “companies use aggressive and sophisticated techniques, including contests, prizes, Web sites, television and magazine ads, to market foods to children“ (Rich, Spencer. (2004), p8-9, 2p). While there are no conclusive studies proving claims that advertising is a cause of obesity, the evidence is highly suggestive that marketing and advertising is playing a major role in the obesity epidemic by using such cartoon characters as Mickey Mouse, and Bugs Bunny to sell everything from macaroni and cheese, to candy. The advertisers have learned that this form of marketing to children will not only make them lifelong loyal customers, but it also pressures the parents to spend their money on these products when the children beg and plead, and can ultimately cause them to consume these products as well. As these products are cheap and can be found in almost any store, it is easy people to rationalize the compared cost and quantity of these foods to their healthier alternatives to be justifiable sources of food to feed a family, particularly for the low-income providers. This form of advertising has been extended in to the public school system where they further influence children along with the choices they are provided in the lunch line. Public schools have long been a source of influence on what people will choose to eat both as kids, and adults later in life. Children are given options such as corndogs,...
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