It’s no surprise that there is an obesity epidemic. Over the past four decades, the average weight of the average 10 year old has gone up by 10-15 pounds while the average weight in adults have gone up by about 20 pounds (source). Of the many causes of death in the U.S., heart disease is at the top of the list with causes including being overweight, being physically inactive, and having a poor diet. Being overweight (BMI over 30) also puts one at risk of having a stroke, diabetes and a slew of other health issues.
Health vs Income
So what’s the challenge here? With all of this evidence that shows inactivity and having a poor diet will lead to serious health issues, why are more than a third of the adult population in the U.S. obese?
For a very small percentage, it’s genetics or some type of disease, but for the rest, it really comes down to their lifestyle. What they put into their bodies and how much exercise they get is all a choice, at least on the surface. According to various studies including this one, there is a strong correlation between one’s income and what type of foods they eat.
Here’s a short clip from the documentary Food Inc. talking about how the low cost of bad food is a big part of the problem:
The clip also goes into how many of the foods sold in stores are full of sugar and salt and although that’s obviously still part of the problem, the biggest issue still lies in the cost of food.
For families that are struggling to get by, it doesn’t make economic sense for them to purchase healthy foods like grass fed beef or organics fruits and vegetables when they can go to a fast food joint and buy enough food to feed an entire family of 4 or 5 for under $15. It might cost them more in the long run with deteriorating health but most families living on low income are more concerned about the here and now.
When unhealthy foods are sold everywhere for a cheaper price than healthier foods with an income that can only stretch so far and a family to feed, the choices are a bit limited. Perhaps obesity isn’t just about choices but also about circumstances.
Being Healthy is Cheaper Than You Think
Of course, not having very much money just makes eating healthier more challenge, not impossible. There are plenty of people who don’t make much but are still able to health relatively healthy. It starts with some knowledge and a little bit of a lifestyle change.
Learning to grow your own foods, buying in bulk, controlling food portions, knowing how to read nutrition labels, getting rid of the urge for sweet foods, using healthier cooking methods, canning food for preservation and food storage, taking walks, being more active… all of these things can help start you and your family on a healthier path, leading to a healthier future.
In the past, before the age of the internet, learning about these things would have been quite difficult but nowadays, with information at our fingertips, anyone can learn simple ways to health healthier without breaking their bank. In fact, here are 15 healthy foods for about $2. There are tons of healthy recipes that don’t require any expensive ingredients if you consider the fact that the stuff you buy can create multiple meals.
It’s not always easy to choose health over money but instead of giving in and choosing an unhealthy lifestyle over a healthier one, figure out a way to make it work. It won’t be easy especially if you’re used to the taste of sugar and processed foods but with some discipline, you and your family will be well on your way to a healthier, more vibrant future. Your future self will thank you for it.