Overweight, Cheap Food and Poverty: Is There a Correlation – Social&Family Issues Example

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"Overweight, Cheap Food and Poverty: Is There a Correlation? " is a great example of a paper on social and family issues. The discussion of whether or not the relationship between cheap food, poverty, and weight exists began many years ago. However, through the findings of various researchers, there have been differing views on this matter. Some studies show negative, positive results or completely invalidate the whole relationship. The varying results obtained throughout the past researches make it difficult to reach a consensus that there exists as an association between cheap food, poverty, and overweight.

For this study, the following methods BMI, triceps skinfold thickness, body fat, waist circumference, and trunk fat mass were used to determine overweight or obese individuals. It also included the AMA and CDC explanation of overweight or obese individuals.                       Most of the researches has focused on obesity status among children and adolescents. The trend of increase in obesity cases among the young populace has been high, which explains why the majority of researches is concentrated on them. Nevertheless, obesity affects all groups of people, but the intriguing feature is that underprivileged people are more vulnerable.

Obesity status is quite high in people with the highest poverty ratios. Given the heightening of economic insecurity among the people in various nations, it is essential to know the reasons behind the increase in obesity among the poor. It is only by getting these facts that we can be able to develop strategies to decrease this health menace to already susceptible people.                       Studies suggest that vulnerability to obesity and the associated health risks can be minimized through practicing good and healthy eating habits.

Also engaging in continual physical activities is a major step towards the prevention of obesity.   Although the decisions or preferences that children and adolescents make depend mostly on the family and culture of the community they come from. Poverty is a crucial factor that hinders the young from maintaining a healthy lifestyle.                       Poor families are usually food insecure, thus they have to survive on restricted food budgets and choices. In the study by Casey et al. (2006) investigated this relationship between food insecure households and the risk of developing obese.

Research data was collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 1999 to 2002. The results showed that about forty percent of the children were susceptible to become obese in the various categories of food insecurity. That is food insecurity influenced greatly the development of obesity in children between 3 and 5 years, and between those at the age of 12 and 17. Also, this was more prevalent in families that were ranked in the ≤ 100% poverty line (Casey, 2006).                       This trend of obesity or overweight is because these families prefer calorically dense foods with energy.

They are more used because of their cheap price, and they give a sustained sated effect on individuals than fresh produce like vegetables, lean meat, dairy products, and fruits. Also, these poor neighborhoods usually have fast-food joints that sell these calorically dense foods that contribute to overweight development. These foods are relatively affordable to the people, which explains why they opt for such foods at the expense of the high nutrient foods.                       Burdette & Whitaker (2004) investigated the association of these fast-food chains, physical activity, and overweight.

The results are somehow contradictory. At first, their findings show a consistency that the level of activity, ease of access to fast food joints, and the safety of the neighborhoods negatively influenced obesity status. These factors led to the development of overweight children. On the other hand, after controlling these variables, poverty ratio, child sex, and child race by using multivariable logistic regression models they concluded that there was no strong influence of these variables on the development of overweight children.                       The role environmental factors play in developing of obese children is receiving much public interest of late.

However, there is an entire no, or maybe there are few research studies present that try to determine the correlation linking the physical environment and developing obesity among individuals. The much that has been done is the research on the association of environmental factors to diet or physical activity, and as per the knowledge available not to obesity matters.                       The study by Burdette & Whitaker (2004), somehow had its shortcoming thus why it did not identify any relations between the factors under study.

For instance, no initiative was taken to account for the quality of the playground. The assumption was general, in that, availability of playground enhanced physical motor activity. However, studies have shown the significance of playgrounds, in older children being involved in various physical activities. Contrary, among preschool children no substantial research has been made to determine if proximity to playground influences the level of activity of these children. Also, the research did not consider the availability of yard space in their homes.

Another possible limitation could be the mobility of the study population that could have hindered an accurate assessment of the environmental variables (Burdette & Whitaker, 2004).                       Further research studies on the contribution of poverty in the development of overweight or obese individuals need to be done. Food insecurity is also a contentious issue in its contribution to obese individuals and should be further researched. Researchers have found it challenging to explain the possible influence of food insecurity on the development of obese status. From the various studies feeding habits, parenting methods and family stressors seem to contribute somehow to childhood obesity, and therefore, more research should be done.

Also, factors such as sedentary lifestyles, unavailability of playgrounds, over-consuming caloric dense foods and low socioeconomic status need to be addressed.                       Even if researchers have been constantly trying to assess the association between poverty, cheap food, food insecurity, and overweight, the general evaluation is that these factors need additional investigations. Particularly, it is essential to parse out the diverse sociological, psychological and personal (age, ethnicity/race, gender) variables associated with obesity.

Other areas that might be of consideration for investigation include a much deeper analysis of recreational facilities' influence, effects of fast-food restaurants and neighborhood grocery stores.  


Boumtje, P.H., Huang, C., Lee, J.Y., & Lin, B.H. (2005). Dietary habits, demographics, and the development of overweight and obesity among children in the United States. Elsevier Food Policy, 30, 115-128.

Burdette, H.L., & Whitaker, R.C. (2004). Neighborhood playgrounds, fast food restaurants, and crime: relationships to overweight in low-income preschool children. Preventive Medicine, 38, 57-63.

Casey, P.H., Szeto, K., Lensing, S., Bogle, M., & Weber, J. (2001). Children in food insufficient, low-income families: Prevalence, health, and nutrition status. Archives for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 155 (4), 508-514.

Casey, P. H., Bogle, M. L., Simpson, P. M., Champagne, C. M., Gossett, J. M., & Connell, C. (2006). The association of child and household food insecurity with childhood overweight status. Pediatrics, 118 (5), 1406-1413.

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