Most obese adults are not low income.
That’s the word from the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control which looked at data on American size between 2005 and 2008. Turns out it’s “convenience,” and not cost or a lack of education, that is making Americans fat. But the internet can help.
The study found that of the 72 and a half million adults who are obese, 41 percent (about 30 million) make at least $35,000 a year – well above the poverty line. Only 20 percent of obese adults are considered “poor.”
There has been much discussion over the past few years as to how to make good food (fruits and veggies especially) cheaper. The theory is that people eat badly because they are poor and can’t afford better food. But we now know it’s the perception of “convenience” that is driving the trend to eat fattening food.
Middle income people are the most overweight and eat fast food more regularly than anyone else. In contrast, 80 percent of those with low incomes cook at home at least five times a week.
Which is to say it is perhaps time to recalibrate our calculations as to how to get Americans to eat better. If people are choosing fattening food because it is “easy,” even when they know it is bad for them, convenience needs to be the focus of our efforts to end the epidemic, not more education. Another recent study at the Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School says as much:
“These findings suggest public education regarding the unhealthfulness of fast food may not influence fast food consumption. Interventions targeting the issue of convenience and quick or efficient preparation of nutritious alternatives to fast food could be more promising.”
So how to make it easier for people to eat better?
Several websites are attempting to make ordering online as easy as shopping at the grocery store, but with healthier food. Farmigo allows consumers to find community supported agriculture programs and buying clubs delivering food to your neighborhood. Local Dirt gives shoppers the ability to locate farmers markets and specific products in season, and Local Harvest lists nearby farms to buy from no matter where you live.
And although these groups are focused on the idea of bringing you great food, what they also inadvertently do is not expose you to crap. By limiting your trips to the traditional supermarket store, you will not have the rows of cereal boxes to choose from, the 100′s of types of chips or that isle of sugar drinks staring you in the face.
Perhaps true convenience then is stocking your kitchen shelves with good food, having it come to you when it is freshest, and never stepping foot in the supermarket again.