May 24, 2006
@ 01:27 AM

As someone who was raised in the third world, I can't help but shake my head at articles like Study: Obesity rises faster in poor teens which begins

Older American teenagers living in poverty have grown fatter at a higher rate than their peers, according to research that seems to underscore the unequal burden of obesity on the nation's poor.

"Today the percentage of adolescents age 15-17 who are overweight is about 50 percent higher in poor as compared to non-poor families, a difference that has emerged recently," said Johns Hopkins' sociologist Richard Miech, the study's lead author.

Being poor and being overweight seems like an oxymoron to me. Or at least it was when I was growing up. You gotta love America, where the poor are overweight and people go hunting on a full stomach. :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 2:26:04 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There is a certain irony for me here in that, when I didn’t finish my dinner in my American household, I was told “there are starving kids in Africa”.

Joking aside, though it’s nice that the poor eat in America, there is a social inequality here that should be looked at. The truth is, eating healthy is expensive. Healthy food is almost across the board more expensive (water being the only notable exception). The manufacturers get away with charging a premium because the market (those who can afford it) are willing to pay.

I mean, how many times have you seen a burger for $.99 while the chicken sandwich is $3.49 (though at a fast food joint even the chicken sandwich probably isn’t that healthy)?

If the government is really concerned with health, they should spend less money on things like “educating adults on the dangers of cigarettes” and more money on subsidizing healthy foods (I’m sorry but any adult American who doesn’t know cigarettes are dangerous at this point deserves the lung cancer they get).
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 3:13:05 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I have actually heard that this is a government conspiracy to prevent the poor from revolting against the government. If poor people are overweight and have the diseases associated with unhealthy meals, it is unlikely they will be willing to march in protest or revolt against the government.
In Africa, on the other hand, where there is not enough food and people must work in physically demanding jobs just to make ends meet develop muscles and discontent with their government.

The combination of physical agility and discontent can be a recipe for protest, uprising, and all the other menace of third countries.

If the population is discontent with their situation in life, and is too fat (sick) to do anything about it, then the government has nothing to worry about.

What is amazing is that most unhealthy (poor) people don’t even realize that the government should be doing something about it. Instead they blame their genes and all the other BS reasons out there.

Bosah C.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:36:48 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
What can I say? How can I add to that?

The sad fact is, a poor child growing up in Lagos, Soweto, Nairobi, Calcutta, Sao Paulo, Hanoi, Madang, etc, isn't going to get much to eat and is going to have to do a lot more (physical) work per calorie.

Whereas a poor child growing up in New York, Houston, San Francisco, London, Sydney, etc, is going to get more to eat because of the "trickle down" effect. They are not going to have to do much per calorie. And it is going to be highly processed and heavily fatty food as well.

So, for example, your unfortunate Black American is going to get in one meal what his ancestors in West Africa ate in a week, with glucose and fatty tissues at a level his ancestors only ate in festivals. Ditto for your unfortunate White American and his ancestors in Europe.

Little wonder they're getting obese.
Mjinga Wawa
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:51:19 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
My experience with momentary indigence was that it's very difficult to find remotely healthy food for a small amount of money:
Thursday, May 25, 2006 7:39:43 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
The article requires registration so I haven't read it.

However, having spent most of my pre-adult years beneath the American poverty line[1], I can tell you that the reason America's poor are overweight is not that they have plenty of good food to eat -- there's no oxymoron here. They're getting too many calories to be sure, but they're empty calories -- primarily from partially hydrogenated oils[2] and high fructose corn syrup[3]. In America soft drinks are cheaper than milk and fruit juice (many brands of which are primarily sugar water anyway), and chips and french fries are usually cheaper than fresh fruit. You can feed yourself at Taco Bell for under $5/day. The overweight are also usually not getting enough exercise.

Even if Africa got all these things at the local equivalent prices, there would still be just as much poverty in Africa (minus the creation of all those fast food jobs). I think it's not about having enough to eat. Sure, poverty is formally defined in terms of income and possessions, but I think it's more about overall quality of life and the (lack of) opportunity to claw your way to a better existence. Even by that definition, America's poor are better off than most of the rest of the world, especially the least developed countries[4].

Being poor in America is still a miserable existence. Like the old Gary Larson cartoon with two guys stranded on a desert island feuding over the dividing line. They both have nothing, yet it's possible to debate about who has more of it.

What can I say, I like wikipedia:
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