Linking poorer backgrounds and Obesity – Ivette Mota – Late

A recent study released that women from poorer backgrounds are more likely to become obese after having children. UCD Professor Michael Turner explained that the chances of obesity increase at each childbirth. Reasons for this may include having less time to cook proper meal and obtaining exercise due to child-caring. However, I believe there should be a more concrete reason as why those with lower socioeconomic statuses are more prone to obesity.

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Looking more into the problem, I read about “food deserts.” This is a coined term for areas where it is difficult to find healthy, affordable food. Furthermore, these areas are lacking in markets with fresher fruits and vegetables and rely on convenience stores and the restaurant industry. Additionally, the quality, selection, and pricing of food vary between convenience stores and supermarkets. It is unfortunate that food deserts are more common in poorer neighborhoods because they are without access to lower cost, higher quality foods. It is important to note that transportation may not always be readily available for all, whether because of health conditions, or even the distance to the closest market.

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Of course, there is food available in food desert. But these foods are not necessarily something one should consume regularly. That is food deserts are thought of as areas surrounded by restaurants, many of them fast-food places, mini-markets, and blanketed by advertisements for said places. To tie in the topic of food deserts to the mentioned study, it may be likely that families with the responsibility of childcare and with less access to transportation to healthier markets may opt for eating something not cooked in-home.

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In terms of urban planning, I believe public health campaigns should look into the problem of food deserts. Several years ago, I remember watching a commercial on TV about mothers talking about childhood obesity. I noticed the mothers were ladies of color and they explained how they were willing to face the challenges of keeping their children healthy. One mother remarked how it was hard talking to her local grocer about keeping fresher fruits in-store. This shocked me as I could not imagine someone asking for the manager at, for example, Costco. But years later and with the images of the commercial in mind, I realize that commercial was geared to those in food deserts. Without healthy options, those living in these areas fall prone to more than just obesity.

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