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Most of US are overweight, what us?

Friday, January 25, 2013

In the last week or so I have seen it said in comments on blogs that most of us in the US are too heavy. To me, this is not precisely true. Most people here on Spark are at least at the median income plus for the country. We own computers, have internet access, and have enough money to choose what we eat. The obesity rates for most of us, the at least middle class, is nowhere near as high as it is for those of lower income. I couldn't find it for adults but the rate doubles for kids. In my life I see this in schools. I worked at an elementary school where lower income kids attended. Yup, fully 40% were noticeably heavy. Then looked at my kids private school, one heavy child in the entire elementary grades. The parents of 90% of the kids at the private school were not obese. So if "us" was the higher income people at that school- nope- most of us don't need to lose weight.
When I was in college, I lived with a friend from high school who had 2 kids and lived on welfare. There wasn't really enough food and her philosophy was better ramen noodles for the kids, than going to bed hungry. I suspect there are a lot of people like that. They eat junk because it is better than going to bed hungry after not being able to buy enough healthy food to nourish them.
I recognize there will always be some overweight people, it is said St Thomas Aquinas had to have the table cut at his monastery to accommodate his belly. I also think there are many people who hit middle age and get sedentary and gain 10-20 pounds over what they should weigh. I doubt this accounts for the "Obesity crisis", people have always been prone to that.
Most of the people I know who have huge weight problems have a past with income problems too. My husband says the same about the people he works with and himself. I am certain there are exceptions but maybe instead of berating people for not taking this seriously enough or living an unhealthy lifestyle, we should be taking a close look at the messages we as a culture are embracing. My mom grew up dirt poor during the depression. She can remember there only being cornmeal in the house to eat and being very hungry but once her family got a garden, they ate very healthy. Home grown veggies, whole grains, home grown eggs and meat. How has the culture of the poor changed so much? Are they/we so hooked on instant gratification? Is it the desperate need to get the most for our money regardless of quality(more for less, my husband's theory)? I wish I had the answer.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SAMI199
    It is a real problem. I shop at Costco's (a wholesale warehouse) & it is sad to see people with cases of Mac& Cheese-Ramen Noodles &lots of other dollar-stretchers. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to feed a large family on a limited budget. The schools do provide meals & there are after school programs-but here NYC-it is not an option to just send your kids out to play-they are indoors because they have to be, TV & video games are a fact of life for families with over-worked parents-or single mothers which is so often the case.There are no easy answers,but it is important to keep trying & finding ways to provide better food options at a price people can afford.It was different when I grew up-we were a large family & certainly not rich,but we had a garden-a neighborhood we could run around in & a stay at home Mom who made things from scratch & we rarely had fast-food or a lot of "junk food". The old "you'll eat it & you'll like it" method was used there there was no dessert except on Sundays.

    1850 days ago
    The first elementary school I attended was near an army base. My dad was an NCO but the majority of my classmates were not army brats. A lot of dirt poor families lived near the base. Some of these houses lacked indoor plumbing. This was in 1965. I had a friend that lived in shack that was insulated with old news papers.

    Most of the kids got free school lunches. We started the day by going to the lunch room and having a fresh baked roll and orange juice. This was because a lot of kids came to school hungry.

    I have my old class photos from this time. Most of my classmates came from impoverished families. Guess what? Each kid was clean with nice cloths. Sure there were a lot of home spun garments. The other thing was all these kids were slender. Not emaciated, but fit and healthy.

    The simple fact was that we were active. After school I was so excited to get home, I often ran the mile and half to my house. I often would grab my bike and pedal like crazy to meet up with friends. Our play time was active. No video games. Video games had not been invented.

    Having to stay inside during bad weather was like being in prison! We had three channels on the TV, and with the exception of Saturday morning cartoons and the baseball "game of the week". TV pretty much sucked!

    My mom was a good cook and stretched our limited budget. A rare treat was a hot dog, potato chips and a small bottle of coke that was served during the game of the week.

    Kids have a far more sedentary lifestyle today than 40 years ago. There are other reasons, but running around outside doesn't give you much of a chance to pig out. Watching TV and playing video games? Plenty of chances to eat lots of junk food.

    Thanks, Bruce

    1850 days ago
    There’s definitely a correlation between obesity and income level, just like the level of smoking. I’ve read about the connection between education level and both of those as well.

    I know there are efforts being made to educate and bring more healthy foods to low income areas, but cost is always a factor, especially in large cities. School gardens are wonderful, especially as a teaching tool, but space for home gardens is at a premium, just too many people per square mile.

    There’s also resistance to being told what to eat, just as being told not to smoke.
    We just have to keep trying to get the information out there in the most positive method possible.

    1850 days ago
    I work at a food bank and people are so serious about what kind of bread they get. they look at the ingredients and try to pick the healthiest but then they are upset if we don't have a bakery sweet for them. Or just coming in wanting sweet and not any of the fruits/vegetables we have to offer them. In part people want what they see to eat on the tv. I know the school is doing a big garden program for the kids and a church is doing cooking classes. Wish there were easy answers.
    1851 days ago
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