05 November 2010

On Obesity and Poverty

A new study done in the US predicts that obesity rates there will peak at 42 percent, not the 34 percent previously predicted.

My immediate reaction: a shrug of the shoulders.

If you live in the poverty well, you know more than most of the 'experts' about the chief cause of certain illnesses. You know more than the health professionals, political advisers or policy makers. To whit, you know that obesity rates will peak at 42 percent in the US because more USians are poor.

With poverty comes poor nutrition and a helluva lot of bad carbs.

Consider the dilemma for parents whose household incomes have their families living in the bargain basement. It's 1) feed your children nutritionally, but exceedingly sparingly, and then ignore your children's cries due to the pains in their bellies from starvation; or 2) feed your children pasta, bread, rice, cookies, donuts, snack food, etc. to fill their bellies and stave off their hunger; the result of which, of course, is malnourishment. And don't forget to feed yourself, although not the good stuff.

Should be obvious, eh? So why don't governments do something about it? Especially governments in countries with a universal healthcare system?

It costs not just lives but MONEY to keep people in poverty, folks!

Far better for the federal government in cooperation with the provinces to implement a guaranteed income for all (GAIA). Far better for municipalities to ensure a robust local food infrastructure and to have inclusive property laws to allow truly affordable housing. Far better these than to pay the enormous financial cost of serving a large swath of the population whose poor health due to poverty drains the healthcare system of crucial resources.

[Cross-posted at economicus ridiculous]

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