Relationship between Overweight, Cheap Food and Poverty – Social&Family Issues Example

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"Relationship between Overweight, Cheap Food and Poverty"  is a wonderful example of a paper on social and family issues. This essay examines cheap food, overweight, and poverty and presents an indication of facts relating to these three issues. Instinctively any correlation between cheap food, overweight and poverty would emerge an implausible contradiction. The contradictory issue is how possible a person with low income is at the same time obese? However, by reviewing some of the literature research carried out in both peer-reviewed articles and government publications reveal the relationships between obesity and poverty.

This essay research is an essential tool that can be used to carry out future research on matters regarding good and healthy eating habits, and obesity. This research is imperative. From various researches carried world widely statistics show that people from the poorest social, economic, and educational resources face a high risk of being obese. Obesity has drastic health effects among children and adults; it increases the chances of contracting diseases such as asthma, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. BMI is the medical method of determining if a person is obese; it expresses the relation between height and weight (height in inches squared x weight in pounds).

Adults are considered overweight if found to be having a BMI of 25-29.9, and regarded obese if found to be having a BMI of more than 30. For children and youth who have between 85th percentile-94.9th percentile is considered overweight while those above 95th percentile are regarded as obese.                                                 Generally, energy imbalances are the chief causes of obesity. That is it arises due to a higher intake of calories as compared to the expended through activities like exercises.

Also, there is an observable high increase in obesity among the populace for the past few years as prices of food shift downwards. Obesity does not affect only a particular group; affects people from different cultures, class, gender, and age. However, low-income populace is quite susceptible. This populace is distinguished by a lack of vendors selling inexpensive healthy food and limited or no secure public recreational amenities. Though, fast food joints and stores which offer affordable but higher processed with high calorific foods are quite an abundance.   Literature Review           The diseases arising from obesity and overweight have a strenuous effect on resources in society.

However, obesity issues are reversible and preventable. This totally depends on an individual’ s food choices. The purchasing power of any food may be due to price, habits, taste, or convenience. High energy-density foods like processed foods (general foods with little water content) are not expensive since they contain cheap ingredients like high quantities of sugar, fat, and salt. But foods with low energy density have a higher nutrient value like fruits, cereals and fish are likely to be more expensive.

Thus people have the choice to eliminate hunger and risk their health or maintaining healthy living at the risk of being hunger-stricken (Acs & Lyles, 2007). Obesity causes can be further explained using the neoclassical theory (Lakdawalla & Philipson. , 2002; (Philipson & Posner. , 1999). This theory emphasizes that the increase in obesity cases has been due to the numerous technological advancements in the agricultural industry. These new innovations, means that cheaper foods are being produced, while this also raises the price for services. Technology has lessened the manual labor needed as many things are automated that in turn leads to lesser spending of calories (Acs & Lyles, 2007).

The theory suggests that when prices of food are cheap, people consume more hence increase in weight which calls for more exercise. Contrary, an increase in the cost of doing exercises will result in people doing fewer physical activities hence an increase in average weight, and weight control measures like reduction in the quantity of food consumed. Hence high prices of exercises and cheap food prices develop a counteracting effect on the amount of food consumed. The neoclassical theory also suggests that a relationship also exists between the level of income a person gets and weight issues.

Despite the knowledge that a person is solemnly the controller of his health practices, weight issues are also affected by income. When underweight and poor people receive or increase their income rates they will result in high food intake which results to gain in weight. For the well-off and overweight people, an increase in income will result in investment in weight control and loss activities to achieve their preferred weight.

Thus in rich nations, an increase in income will result in the poor being overweight while the middle class and rich populace will cut weight gain (Lakdawalla & Philipson. , 2002). Many factors cause instances of obesity and overweight among children, as well as coming from a home with low-income. Even if recent studies show varying results in different racial groups,   children from families with lesser income are more probable of gaining excess weight as opposed to those from well-able and high-income brackets (Ogden et al. , 2010).

These may be as a result of these children from poor neighborhoods having limited and safe playing grounds. They result in spending of most the times indoors watching Televisions and indoor games like Tv games. Children from well-off families enjoy good recreational parks and adequate choices for physical activities (Lyles, 2004). Cheap foods usually have low nutrition value (fewer calories) and they are energy-dense. These are much easily within reach in low-income areas than much energy-dense foods and fresh foods. Hence it is right to say that cost of diet and its quality influences the dietary consumption in families with low incomes (Drewnowski & Darmon. , 2005).

Thus the relation between overweight and poverty is partly influenced by the cheap prices of energy-dense foods that consequently encourage overconsumption. There is an inverse correlation between energy costs and energy density, in that people who experience food insecurity or with low income could signify a premeditated tactic of saving money.   As people tend to minimize expenditure on foods they will go for the least expensive but with higher density amounts so as to maintain the energy requirements.

The reduction of costs on foods leads to an increase in the overall energy intake as food energy density increases (Drewnowski & Specter. , 2004). Obesity being a health hazard that can lead to a person contracting various diseases needs to be curbed. This can be through government initiatives that offer fundings to people to seek health services to treat consumption problems, or funds from insurance and personal resources can be employed. However, this may not be substantial enough to help in the long-term.

These may be supplemented by the concept of social capital, whereby it is involved in various community-based organizations. This will help with minimized or no costs on health care services and providing more resources like obesity sensitizing campaigns (Lyles, 2009; Lyles, 2004). Conclusion There is a good correlation between these factors; poverty, overweight and lower prices of food. It is seen that the poor populace has a high number of obese people. This is due to the food choices which shift to inexpensive foods which offer more energy levels that result in a gain of weight.

People in the poverty line don’ t have enough finances to purchase healthy foods such as fruits and other fresh produce. In the case, if they are available they are usually of low quality and attractive.   The recent technological innovations have led to the production of cheaper processed foods which are of much energy density. The automation in the agricultural industry and other sectors has reduced physical work which initially was a source of exercise. Thus people tend not to do more exercise which increases overweight numbers.


Acs, Z. & Lyles, A. (2007). Obesity, Business and Public Policy. Cheltenham, UK.: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

Drewnowski, A. & Specter, S.E. (2004). Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 79, 6-16.

Drewnowski, A. & Darmon, N. (2005). The economics of obesity: dietary energy and energy cost. Am J ClinNutr. , 82, 265S-273S.

Lakdawalla, D. & Philipson, T. (2002). Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 8946. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Lakdawalla, D., Philipson, T., & Bhattacharya, J. (2005). Welfare-Enhancing Technological Change and the Growth of Obesity. American Economic Review, , 95 (2), 253-257.

Lyles, A. (2009). Improving Long-term Weight Management:Social Capital and Missed Opportunities. Population Health Management , 12 (6), 293-295.

Lyles, A. (2004). Public Policy, Private Insurance Benefits and Weight Control. Clinical Therapeutics , 26 (3), 416-417.

Ogden, C. L. , Lamb, M.M., Caroll, M.D., & Flegal, K.M. (2010). Obesity and socioeconomic status in children: United States 2005-2008. . In NCHS data brief no 51. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.

Philipson, T. & Posner, R. (1999). The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change: National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 7423. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

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