Most poor Americans are fat. “Heresy you say? How dare you write that? You are denigrating poor people!” Well, it’s true. How do I know that? Well, most Americans are fat and the poor are even fatter. Why can’t we be intellectually honest about this issue? This article in the WSJ at least was. It discusses how the same organizations use their sound bites and tag lines like “Walk for Hunger”, “hunger relief”, “1 in 7 Americans struggle to get enough to eat”,“America Can’t Be Great on an Empty Stomach” and so on but the truth is that we have an obesity problem that costs so much more than a hunger problem. In fact, if most Americans were 10% underweight we probably would be healthier. Anyway, I have blogged about this smoke and mirror game before and you should read more about it here. Pat Conrad MD also blogged about it here. This is three years ago and finally mainstream media is talking about the elephant in the room. No pun intended. The WSJ article gave us some facts:
Today, obesity is the problem. Some 38% of Americans are obese, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last fall, compared with about 12% in 1969. The statistics are worse among the poor. Obesity rates in America’s poorest counties are roughly 12% higher than the national median. About 42% of Hispanics are obese, as are 48% of African-Americans, according to the CDC.
The advocacy organizations know this but continue their sham. Now they use the term“food insecurity.” How do they get this term?
Every year, the Agriculture Department asks a sample of households 10 questions, such as if they had failed to eat or worried about running out of food for lack of money at any time in the previous 12 months. Households that answer “yes” to three of the 10 are classified as “food insecure.” A “yes” to six or more counts as “very low food security.” These aren’t measures of hunger or under-nutrition, but advocacy groups and the media nonetheless depict them as such. The survey results are also referenced to suggest that many Americans face food insecurity on an average day, even though the percentages actually measure those who experienced it on any single day in the past year. On a typical day, fewer than 1% of households have very low food security, but readers of the USDA report don’t learn this until page 10.
Do you see how this is such a joke? But we all knew that. Intuitively, we all know that obesity and the problems that come with it (heart disease, diabetes, etc) are the real issues that need to be addressed. We see it in our practices. America sees it as well. How? Everyone has a cell phone and every You Tube video and Instagram clip shows….fat people. For once, let’s be honest about this and try to fix it. The problem with the “hunger” complaint is that it doesn’t sit well with mainstream America because they know it is a lie. Who wants to donate to a food insecurity and hunger problem for the person in the picture above?
So why is this “food insecurity” myth perpetuated? The author in the article believes it strengthens political support for the nutrition programs it administers. The $74 billion a year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—also known as food stamps—still allows recipients to purchase candy and soda with their benefits. God forbid we force them to give healthy food to the poor. Why would that be a crime? I guess it would be discrmitiatve in some manner?
So, why don’t advocates for low-income and minority Americans support change in these programs to make sure the food that is given is healthy? Your guess is as good as mine.Tweet