is there a correlation between poverty and obesity?


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its not every day i link up to a newspaper article.. but this one seems very interesting..

what do you guys think?

Poverty has a way of rearing its ugly head, slipping into the cracks in people's lives when they're young and then re-emerging later in life. Sometimes it happens in ways that are easily observable—what poor babies are fed, for instance, has been shown to alter what they crave as adults, creating life-long affinities for foods that might be better left uneaten. But sometimes the influences are hidden, and all the more insidious as a result.

A team of researchers, led by Sarah Hill, who teaches psychology at Texas Christian University, believe they have uncovered evidence of one such lingering effect. Specifically, Hill and her colleagues found that people who grow up poor seem to have a significantly harder time regulating their food intake, even when they aren't hungry.

"We found that they eat comparably high amounts regardless of their need," said Hill.

The researchers, interested in exploring why obesity is more prevalent in poorer populations, devised three separate experiments, which tested how people from different socioeconomic backgrounds behaved in front of food.

In the first, they invited 31 female participants into their lab, who were asked how long it had been since they had eaten, and how hungry they were. They were then given snacks (cookies and pretzels), which they were free to eat or leave be, as they pleased. When they were finished, Hill and her team measured the number of calories each consumed. The discrepancy between how the participants ate was alarming.

Those who grew up in higher socioeconomic households exhibited normal consumption behavior—eating when they were hungry, saying no thank you to the snacks when they were full. Those who grew up in lower socioeconomic households, meanwhile, ate no matter how hungry they were. The chart below, plucked from the study, does a good job of depicting the difference between the two groups.

A single experiment, however, isn't nearly enough to establish a convincing connection. So they took it a step further.

This time they invited 60 female participants, each of whom was asked to refrain from drinking or eating for five hours. Half of them were given Sprite, a caloric beverage, while the remaining half sipped on sparkling water, which has no calories. Then, they too were given snacks (cookies and pretzels), which they were free to eat or leave be, as they pleased. And, once again, what Hill and her team observed was eye-opening.

"It's incredible, it's as though the soda didn't register for those whose socioeconomic status as a child was low," said Hill. "It went down like water."

Those who grew up in higher socioeconomic households ate far less when they had consumed a Sprite, while those who grew up in lower socioeconomic households ate regardless of the beverage they had been given. The chart below, also taken from the study, shows how differently the two groups behaved.

In the third and final experiment, the researchers replicated the second, but added two tweaks. They invited 82 participants, which included men this time, and measured each participants' blood glucose to see if their blood sugar levels mediated food intake as they should.

Yet again, only those who hadn't grown up in poor households seemed to properly regulate their food intake.

"We expected to observe these differences, but not this clearly or consistently," said Hill. "I think it points to how the conditions poorer children face when young could be leading them to behave in ways that promote things like overeating and obesity."

Hill singles out childhood poverty, because she and her team asked participants not only for their socioeconomic statuses as children, but also their current socioeconomic statuses as adults, and, rather incredibly, the abnormal eating patterns only correlated with the former.

"I was very surprised by this," she said. "We really thought there would be an association with both."

What's going on?
The reason why people who grow up in poorer households seem to have trouble controlling how much they eat when they're not actually hungry is not entirely clear. But there are likely a few things going on.

For one, Hill posits that growing up in poorer households, which tend to have less educated parents, could lead to less of an awareness of one's body and the changes that it undergoes. "If they aren't in tune with their bodies, they might not be in tune with their bodily needs," she said. "And that's kind of what the results suggest."

There might also be a form of conditioning that's tied to the actual circumstances in which poorer families encounter and experience food. For those who never had to worry about a meal, foregoing a snack is no big deal—it's an afterthought. But for those who did, it could mean the difference between a good night's sleep and hours awake in bed.

"When you grow up in these types of environments, you’re effectively being trained to eat when you can instead of when you’re hungry," she said. "Something about that experience could be leftover."

Traci Mann, who teaches psychology at the University of Minnesota and has been studying eating habits, self-control and dieting for more than 20 years, has a slightly different theory.

People, she says, begin life perfectly capable of starting and stopping to eat when they are hungry and when they are full. "Babies can do it—breast feeding babies do that exactly (as long as the mom doesn't mess it up)—and small kids as well."

As the years go by, we tend to lose this ability to some extent, forcing us to rely on other cues—like memory. Certain people, however, lose the ability faster and more broadly than others. A perfect example are people Mann calls "chronic dieters," who are constantly restraining what they eat. By depriving themselves of calories, they end up triggering biological changes in their bodies that actually make it harder for them to resist food. And this, she says, is likely what's happening with those born into lower socioeconomic statuses.

"It's not terribly surprising that a childhood of caloric deprivation (due to financial issues) would lead to the same long-term problems that you see among chronic dieters," she said. "Essentially, eating when not hungry."

However similar the pattern of behavior, the implications are still unsettling.

If there is such a gap between how poor and rich children interact with food that carries over to rest of their lives, it complicates our understanding of why here in the United States, contrary to international trends, poor people are far more prone to obesity than their wealthier counterparts. Many have posited that it's not how much poorer households are eating, but what they are eating that has caused this trend. And there is plenty of reason to believe there is truth to this—studies have shown, after all, that lower income families choose substantially less healthy foods than others. The harms of unhealthier diets, however, are all the more nefarious when they're coupled with a fractured ability to regulate eating.

Hill warns that her team's findings are still preliminary. "We don't know exactly what the mechanism is, or how self-aware the people who eat even when they aren't hungry are," she said. "We need to pursue more research to figure out what is causing these troubling patterns of behavior."

She also says that just because the pattern exists, doesn't mean it's not something we can change. "There's no reason to think we can't help them override this."

But the fact that the patterns exists steepens what we already know to be an uphill climb for those born into poverty in the United States. The tentacles of poverty touch many different aspects of people's lives. Food is a particularly apt example—food inequality, whereby America's wealthiest people eat well, while the country's poorest eat, well, poorly, is not only real, but worsening—but it's hardly the only one. Poverty has, for instance, been shown to shackle those who are born into it, severely limiting their ability to succeed in society—socially, academically, and financially.

Increasingly, it seems the key to breaking the cycle of poverty might lie in understanding that the gap begins to grow at a very early age, cementing itself in ways that make it very difficult to untangle. And there are few things as stark as the difference between how poor and rich kids develop relationships with food.
1. Eating healthy is expensive, very expensive.
2. Education has a profound impact - as the article mentions. I'm very well educated, currently hold a masters degree and an obsessed with eating clean and staying away from junk. My wife grew up in a lower / middle income family with little post highschool education and eats nothing but garbage. Let me tell you first hand how difficult it has been to get her to eat heathy. Just as the article states, it's very difficult to break out of the junk food cycle. I hate to say this but ive had to be very candid about her weight and eating - those conversations don't go well.
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Good point. I just have to look at Asia. Before commercial businesses went there with their fast foods, fast drinks, 7-11's, Wendys' etc. They where fit and healthy people with great and awesome diets and very very very few fat folks. Now after my recent trip there I saw a ton more fat people. To be honest I would rather grow up there poor back in the days and at least eat some good and real food, if you know anything about Asian food its super high in veggies, and light on meat...any meat and freaking delicious spices lol, then in the states with all those proceeded preservatived foods that all they do is bloat a person up, damage their organs and lower their IQ.
Lower e b t food alowances. My latest gf ( lol ) works with a lady who has 4 kids, gets e b t benefits and is grossly fat...and pregnant. We ve got a system of such excess that sitting around entitles u to not only eat urself into diabetes but u even get a f k n phone.

Ain t no fat poor people in Mexico, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Hondurous, Afghan, Pak., Jordan, Lebanon etc.

I live in fattest, dumbest, poorest, most single mom...etc..state in the country boy s. I do not go near Wal Mart the 1 st 5 day s of month ..they got e b t folks that like an elephant when under attack...I m scared they ll look at me...a lion with an Iron cross tat...and roll on me. I d say there s a demographic correlation here as well but then that would be like ...politically uncool...and we know I m very sensitive to those who can t get their shit together regardless of freebies, ...and 200 yr s of gubment ed mu cation housing and all dat shit...u can t educate a person who WONT GO TO SCHOOL.
Sho nuff...das right.

Any moderator feel free to edit. Hate to offend...and we KNOW that s gonna generate another
***8226; Gender and physical activity
o Men have historically been physically active then women
o Differences more pronounced in adolescence
***61607; 50 % boys sufficiently active
***61607; 32 % girls sufficiently active
o Men are more likely to engage in activities, while women engage in more moderate-intensity activity

***8226; Ethnicity and physical activity
o Caucasians tend to be more physically active than other ethnic groups
o Caucasians tend to engage in more vigorous physical activity than other groups
o A greater proportion of Latino children participate in daily PE at school than other groups
o Fewer Caucasian high school students watch TV for more than two hours compared to
o Latino and African American students

***8226; Socioeconomic status (SES) and physical activity
o Lower-income individuals are more sedentary (28 %) when compared with overall U.S. population (23)
o Lower-income individuals engage in slightly less vigorous activity ( 14 %) than total U.S. population (16%)
o Exercise rates in England:
***61607; 88% of men and 84% of women with highest incomes
***61607; 66% of men and 68% of women with lowest incomes
***8226; Education level and physical activity

o Data from Australia on levels of ***8220;sufficient***8221; physical activity:
-38.6% of individuals with fewer than 12 years of education are sufficiently active
- 47% of those with a high school certificate or equivalent are sufficiently active
-; 52.3% of those who continued education beyond high school are sufficiently active

- Studies related to PA and inactivity: SFL, HA, Cooper institute
o San Francisco Longshoreman (Paffenbarger et al., 1977)
- Longitudinal ***8211; 22 year follow up assessment
- Measured PA and morbidity
- 11 % died of CHD
- Men who expended 8,500 kcals/week on the job = lower CHD mortality risk
o Harvard Alumni (Paffenbarger et al., 1986)
-Focus on self-reported leisure activity
- 53 % reduction in all-cause mortality when participating at least hours/week of sport activity
- Active live 2 years longer than inactive
Social ecological models - individuals bear responsibility for engaging in healthful behaviors
- Other levels of influence on healthful behaviors also exist:
***61607; Physical environment, community, society, government
- A Social Ecological Model for Physical Activity
***61607; Community agencies and groups can influence policies that will provide supportive physical activity
***61607; More supportive environment will lead to greater physical activity among community members
- Physical activity can be increased two ways
- ***61607; Improve availability of and access to facilities and programs

***8226; Lack of facilities contributes to inactivity

IGRNOE the ***8226, those were just bullet points. But I thought I'd share what I had really quick from the notes I had from my course :)

***8226; Presence of accessible facilities correlates positively with physical activity participation

- Support active transportation
***61607; Lack of sidewalks, or inconvenient and unsafe conditions, contributes to inactivity
***61607; Physical activity can be increased if agencies develop policies that provide supportive environments for active forms of transportation-
Social Ecological Models limitations
o Environmental and policy changes can take a long time and a lot of money to implement
- Not intended to be ***8220;stand-alone***8221; interventions- Simply building fitness facilities does not mean that people will automatically become more physically active
- Educational and incentive programs to motivate people can be expensive and time consuming
I'll be honest...I really don't get it. How is it MORE expensive to eat healthy??? Frozen meals and junk food is way more expensive. $8.99 for a bag of frozen chicken nuggets that may feed 2 people vs roughly the same price for a pack of 4 chicken breasts and a box of minute rice. You can get $4 sirloins at market basket and feed 2 people with it. Boxes of pasta for .89 cents, packs of pork chops for $3-$4.
I'll be honest...I really don't get it. How is it MORE expensive to eat healthy??? Frozen meals and junk food is way more expensive. $8.99 for a bag of frozen chicken nuggets that may feed 2 people vs roughly the same price for a pack of 4 chicken breasts and a box of minute rice. You can get $4 sirloins at market basket and feed 2 people with it. Boxes of pasta for .89 cents, packs of pork chops for $3-$4.

I don't think when looking at a purely cost basis, eating 'healthy' is more expensive. However, it requires a LOT more work and a LOT more time. Not to mention it also requires a lot of other things, like a well equipped kitchen, to do well. Most people in the low income demographic are working odd or long hours, may not have the best housing situation, may not have a vehicle (i.e. takes longer to commute to and from work, etc. There are a lot of variables and I think it's hard to boil it down to cost.

I know when I was in college, it was blatantly more expensive to eat unhealthily. BUT, because of my schedule and housing limitations, it was SO much easier to eat junk food or eat out.

Since I've started eating properly and meal prepping, etc I can say it is a not an easy job to prepare healthy food and have it available around my schedule. It would be way easier to grab a pop tart in the morning or whatever, go out to grab some lunch, and microwave something for dinner at night.

Education also plays a role in it. Until I started becoming interesting in bodybuilding, I had no idea about how the body interacts with foods and the effects it can have. Or even WHY we get fat, I (as a lot of people do) blamed it on genetics. Turns out I actually have pretty solid genetics, but I just always had a really SHITTY diet. Proper education regarding diet is just non existent in the US; not only that, but theres so much BS out there, even if you're trying to learn it's easy to get on the wrong track.

I didn't grow up poor, but rather grew up in a middle class family in which my PARENTS had been poor. I think this led to them feeling the need to provide us with the luxuries they didn't have growing up. We always had a pantry full of junk food and a fridge full of soda. We were encouraged to live a snacking lifestyle. Just a tad hungry? Go eat some chips. How many? As many as you want! THen wash it down with a Mt. Dew. Coupled with low activity levels, it's not hard to see how this kind of lifestyle leads to obesity.

I think the biggest culprit for obesity is that, as a society, we do not hold ourselves accountable for our bodies. Oh? He's ripped and lean? He must have great genetics and take a ton of steroids and be in the gym all the time. There's no way it's just discipline and a decent diet! People just don't want to accept that you can't just eat whatever you want when you want and not get fat; they continue to delude themselves into thinking it's out of their control.
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I'll be honest...I really don't get it. How is it MORE expensive to eat healthy??? Frozen meals and junk food is way more expensive. $8.99 for a bag of frozen chicken nuggets that may feed 2 people vs roughly the same price for a pack of 4 chicken breasts and a box of minute rice. You can get $4 sirloins at market basket and feed 2 people with it. Boxes of pasta for .89 cents, packs of pork chops for $3-$4.

also in some areas people may not have access to fresh food market like some of us do. I remember driving through this neighborhood, they had liquor stores and like 7-eleven. No markets what so ever :/
I spent a few years in West Va, in a poor rural area. Sure enough, folks seem to be either obese or smokers, and occasionally both.

We need to find a way to allow the poor that count on an EBT card to afford fresh fruit and vegetables.
The US dept of AG could simultaneously help both farmers and EBT card holders by letting them get 2 for ones.
And not allow an ebt cards to purchase items with no nutritional value.... coke/pepsi, that kind of thing.

In the long run, it will save us all money. Maybe there will be some folks that we don't have to pay for diabetes treatment, or heart disease.