Advertisement

How is poverty linked to obesity?

Unhealthy, highly processed foods are cheap, filling and have a long shelf life. This makes these kinds of products appealing and practical for low-income families. 

In addition to the statistical facts related to poverty and obesity, poverty is linked to obesity in the following ways: 

  • Limited access to healthy food: "Food deserts" are defined as neighborhoods with little or no access to large supermarkets that offer fresh vegetables, fresh meat and fresh vegetables. Food deserts are located in low-income neighborhoods all across the U.S. 
  • Food banks: Food banks provide unsaleable (i.e. damaged cans) and surplus food products from supermarkets and food drives to local soup kitchens, churches and other agencies that supply food to the poor. These foods are often low in nutrition and high in calories and sugar. Poor people do not have a choice in their selection and must utilize what is given to them. 
  • Lack of safe locations to engage in physical activity.
  • Lack of education on: healthy shopping on a budget, cooking healthy meals, maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Abby Ellin
Nutrition & Dietetics
Federal statistics indicate that the higher the poverty level, the higher the rate of obesity, especially among minorities. Around 16 percent of whites who earn $50,000 are obese, but that figure climbs to nearly 23 percent among whites who only earn $15,000. Twenty-two percent of blacks who earn $50,000 are obese, compared with 34 percent for those in the $15,000 bracket. 
Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs In on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help

More About this Book

Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs In on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help

We've been inundated lately with books and articles about childhood obesity. Most offer cultural critique or nutrition and exercise advice — in tones that are alternately appalled and patronizing....

Continue Learning about Obesity

Does Calling Obesity a Disease Matter?
Does Calling Obesity a Disease Matter?
A couple of years ago picky eaters learned they had a “selective eating disorder” and were relieved of guilt about their limited tolerance for food’s ...
Read More
How can I stay healthy if I'm overweight?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
The surprising fact is that just being overweight won't do you much harm if you do not make poor...
More Answers
What is being done to combat obesity in Native American communities?
dLife - It's YOUR Diabetes Life!dLife - It's YOUR Diabetes Life!
Native American culture does not view obesity as taboo, believing it to be ordinary and healthy. Thi...
More Answers
Is Our Environment Causing Obesity?
Is Our Environment Causing Obesity?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.