The world changes and modernizes every day, and with that, people are more concerned about their health. Nobody is yelling, “Super-Size me!” anymore. Instead, people want leafy greens and organic meats. We tell people eating fast food is unhealthy and lazy. What we don’t pay attention to is the people who don’t have any other choice.
The USDA says that “vehicle access is perhaps the most important determinant of whether or not a family can access affordable and nutritious food.”
This means that diets can be limited due to access. Some people have to only choose foods light enough for a walk or a ride on public transit. Other people without cars may only go shopping once a month, which causes them to buy less fresh products and more non-perishable items that will most likely be less healthy.
In lower income communities, cheap food is more readily available because it’s what the members of that community can afford. You see more fast food restaurants. Dining at a fast food restaurant is usually cheaper than having to make a meal at home. People who have a lower income also tend to buy cheaper foods that are filling in order to stretch their dollars.
We talk about being healthy and living a “healthy” lifestyle, but in reality, there is great privilege in that.
Dariush Mozafarian, professor of nutrition at Tufts University, published a study about the nutrition gap between low and high income people. He found that only 38 percent of low income people eat a balanced diet compared to 62 percent of higher income people.
“There’s a time cost to buying foods and preparing them yourself. There’s a knowledge barrier,” Mozaffarian said.
Lower income people don’t have the luxury of choice that comes with being able to eat fresh produce or even the time to cook meaningful meals because they are spending time working.
People say cruel things about poor people being obese and eating junk food. There are even studies to suggest that lower income people could eat healthier if they wanted to, but the fact is that some people don’t have the time to. I have personal experience with this.
They are more concerned with getting food on the table and less concerned with the nutritional value of that food. Seductive ads push to lower income areas of cities where they know people will be more prone to choose unhealthy foods over the alternative.
Something must be done about this. We must hold fast food companies accountable for their vulture-like advertising. When talking about health, we need to be more conscious of the lower income.
Olivia James is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.