well, it's settled...it's a conspiracy to keep you fat.
That’s what University of Washington researchers found when they compared the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area. Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices also are less likely to rise as a result of inflation. The findings, reported in the current issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are seen among people in lower-income groups (more).
stroll any supermarket & bodega around the country and you'll probably notice that fruits and vegetables cost disproportionately more than junk food. yesterday i hit the grocery store in search of a few healthy items: fruit, veggies, boca products, and my wallet took a hit. my total? nearly $70, spent on two lonely bags of groceries. ouch.
(this is what $70 looks like)
i have always speculated that eating out is actually cheaper than cooking (notice how i didn't say healthier). i know, i'm going against all of the budget crunchers out there, but each time i go to the grocery store i feel like i've been stuck-up. i come home with a few bags, and a whole lot less money. it just doesn't seem to make sense.
no wonder we are fat.
in stiff economic times like these, people are forced to feed their families at the expense of their health. people must choose between $9 chicken breasts or $3 ground beef. it's a no brainer if you're broke and your kids are hungry.
the high cost of food, and the lack of high-quality foods in many communities, also makes me think about the obesity rates in inner city communities. is it a coincidence that the communities that have the least money to spend are oft times the fattest?
a study published in the Pediatric News tackled the issue of obesity rates in inner city kids in East Harlem, NY. the study found that kids were inundated by bodegas (corner stores) and fast food joints, but had little access to stores that carried fresh fruits and vegetables.
Proximity and prevalence of these convenience stores, known as bodegas in Spanish, turn out to be an accurate predictor of body weight and waist-to-hip ratio in East Harlem children, according to Dr. Maida P. Galvez of the center for children's environmental health and disease prevention research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. The wide availability of junk food and the relative dearth of fresh healthy foods go a long way toward explaining the rampant obesity and diabetes in this largely poor Hispanic and African American neighborhood.
...In the neighborhood as a whole, there were 10 supermarkets and 9 grocery stores, but 182 bodegas. The latter typically sell predominantly high-fat, high-sugar packaged foods, and very little fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or other healthy foods.(more)
while this study was conducted in Harlem, it can be easily replicated in Watts, Chicago, DC, or any other major American urban city. the startling thing about this to me is that we are killing our kids. a lot of times we blame parents for not cooking the right foods or setting bad examples for kids, but we fail to take a look at the system that isn't set up equitably.
as a child growing up in South-Central Los Angeles, i distinctly remember our local grocery store. the fruits always seemed dented and a little too ripe, the meats were a mixed bag, but there were isles of tasty, sugary, fatty treats. when my mother ventured out of our neighborhood to shop, we saw a stark contrast in the quality of food offered in more affluent neighborhoods. these neighborhoods had bustling produce departments, brimming with colorful fruit and vegetables, some of which i'd never even seen before. they had a bakery department that severed FRESH breads, and the meat didn't look funny at all. at 11, the disparities were apparent to me and it didn't seem right. even though i was young i knew that having access to GOOD foods shouldn't be a privilege, it should be a right.