Is There a Connection Between Obesity and Poverty?

Obesity is more prevalent in high-income countries than in middle-to low-income countries. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information report, the international trend is that greater obesity correlates with greater wealth (NCBI).

Economic growth in China and India, for example, has increased obesity rates severalfold.

Obesity rates in the United States are among the highest in the world, despite the fact that it is one of the wealthiest countries. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and the situation is expected to worsen.

Obesity is most prevalent in low-income households in the United States. This is because those people have limited access to healthy, nutritious food, which was especially noticeable during the previous economic downturn. Because they were concerned with quantity rather than quality, low-income families would forego healthy foods in favor of cheaper convenience foods.

According to the Florida-Times Union, the cost of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is much higher than that of high-fat, high-carb processed foods that are sold in larger quantities and have a longer shelf life.

Similarly, parks and sports facilities are less accessible to people living in poverty. Low-income families do not have the resources to pay for gym memberships, athletic clothing, and/or exercise equipment.

Obesity in the United States is not only a health issue but also a financial and political one. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, obese Americans pay 42 percent more in healthcare costs and life insurance premiums than normal-weight people.

Obesity-related chronic diseases account for approximately 70% of U.S. health costs, making the link between obesity, inactivity, and poverty too costly to ignore.

According to the NCBI, health care costs for diabetics in the United States average $9 million per year, with a new diabetes patient costing around 9,000 dollars.

The Obama administration launched a nationwide nutrition education campaign and implemented policies, such as the National School Lunch Program, to provide healthier food options to children. Obesity has been linked to the development of potentially fatal medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.

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