Help with Obesity for Low-income Families Victoria Rock AIU Online Abstract Obesity has become a major problem here in America. Although millions of American’s are affected by it, from all levels of society, the biggest problem seems to be focused with low-income families. Help with Obesity for Low-income Families It has become impossible for low-income families to provide healthy meals for their families.

Government, Farm policies and the food industry itself are main reasons as to why the cost of healthy foods has become harder for American families, especially low-income families, to provide the healthy foods needed to fight the obesity epidemic. With low- income families being the main focus point on the problem of obesity in the eyes of society, because many believe that they waste there assistants on junk foods, which is far from fact, the cost of healthy foods has become far too expensive for many Americans to purchase especially low-income families.

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The fact is low-income families are in need of more and better help in the fight against obesity. Problems that Contribute to Obesity There are many factors that contribute to obesity; genetics, health issues, medications, self-esteem, and stress are major contributors. But also for low-income families you can add risk factors associated with poverty such as; limited resources and assess to healthy and affordable foods. The Food Stamp Act of 1964 was enacted to help prevent hunger and improve social conditions for families with low incomes. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program:Legislative History, The Food Stamp Act of 1964) With the way our economy has been declining, over 40 million Americans are now receiving food support because they now fall with-in the Federal Poverty Guidelines which determines if you receive food support for your family. (2011 Federal Poverty Guidlines, 2011) The BMI is another way that doctors and scientist keep track of a person’s body fat. This information is then turned in to the government’s statics center which is used to keep up with American’s ealth issues. Until 1997 overweight had been defined as a BMI of 27. 8 or higher for men and 27. 3 or higher for women, then in 1998 scientist and government changed the BMI index to 25 or higher for both genders and all of a sudden 35 million Americans who was considered healthy one day was then considered overweight including George W. Bush, who was considered the most fit President in U. S. history. (Freedom, 2005) Basic Concerns Regarding Obesity in America

There are many that consider the BMI to be bogus, officials for the NFL and other athletic programs are among the ones that believe this, they state that the BMI formula does not take muscle content into account. A person with good muscle mass and no body fat, if their weight is used using the BMI index would claim that they are overweight or obese when in fact they are lean and healthy. The BMI index formula is 703 * weight/height squared. (Freedom, 2005) Another concern is that low-income families buy nothing but “junk” foods to feed their families.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the Department of Agriculture to approve a two year experimental program banning the city’s food stamp recipients from spending funds on beverages with added sugar without showing specific statics linking higher rates of obesity to those receiving food-stamps. (Krieger, 2011) The fact is healthy foods have increased 40% over the past 20 years, while commodities used as additives for processed foods, have decreased by 1. 8%, making the cost of “junk” foods calorie for calorie much less.

Energy-dense, non-healthy foods cost an average of $1. 76 per 1,000 calories while low-energy, healthy foods cost $18. 16 per 1,000 calories. (Parker-Pope, 2007) “If you have three dollars to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar. ” said Dr. Drewnowski, Professor of the Department of Epidemiology and Medicine at the University of Washington. He further stated, “Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods. (Parker-Pope, 2007) Much of these cost are due to our Governments Farm Policy. Farm policy encourages the production of commodities for processed foods instead of healthy foods. Whether by intention or not, because of the low cost of commodities like corn and soybeans, sugars and fats like fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oils, current farm policy has directed food industry investment into funding ways of using these cheap food additives in processed foods, thus causing consumers to eat more added sweeteners and oils than is healthy.

Because these highly processed foods can be produced at a very low cost, they give significant profit for the food industry which creates an industry incentive to market “junk” foods instead of healthier foods. (Food without Thought:How US Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity) Policies that need Improvement The BMI index needs to be done away with when it does not provide the proper information on a person’s body fat and include a person’s muscle index.

The Food Stamp program should allow all families receiving support the maximum amount allowed by government instead of deducting what little bit a family may have in cash after adjustments to all cost of providing for a family. For example if after figuring out all expenses and deducting it from your net income, if you have twenty dollars left over, that twenty dollars is deducted from the maximum amount of food support allowed, not allowing that family a little extra to help in providing a healthier meal. Another policy that is in need of improvement is the Farm Policy.

Farm policies not only encourages the over production and use of cheap commodities, it also works against the creation of healthier food system. Rather than creating incentives to grow food crops to be consumed locally, government research, extension, and financial support are largely directed towards commodity crops use to feed animals, industrial use and exports. (Food without Thought:How US Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity) Conclusion Yes obesity is a major problem in America and many beliefs are shaped by expert panels that are highly selective in the data they consider and let known to the public.

The National Institute of Health Task Force on the prevention and treatment of obesity got government to change the BMI index because of their own agenda. Eight of the nine panel members of the task force have ties to the weight-loss industry either as consultants to pharmaceutical companies, recipients of research money or advisers to for-profit groups like Weight Watchers and they saw a way of making a lot of money by proving there are too many people that are overweight. Farm policy as also had their hand in this by making commodities used in process foods cheaper for food companies to produce and profit from. Because of the cost for these processed foods, which include canned fruits and vegetables and any other foods that contain fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils, low-income families are being forced to buy non-healthy foods in order to prevent their families from going hungry. Farm policy has made it difficult if not impossible for low-income families to provide healthy diets to their families.

References 2011 Federal Poverty Guidlines. (2011, January 21). Retrieved June 8, 2011, from Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Center for Children and Families: http://ccf. georgetown. edu/index/cms-filesystem-action? file=statistics/federal%20poverty%20guidelines. pdf Food without Thought:How US Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity. (n. d. ). Retrieved June 11, 2011, from Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: www. iatp. org/iatp/factsheets. cfm? ccountID=258&refID-89968 Freedom, T. C. (2005). 65 Percent of Americans Are Overweight or Obese. In T. C. Freedom, An Epidemic of Obesity Myths (pp. 5-17). Washington,D. C. : The Center for Consumer Freedom. Krieger, R. (2011, February 2). Limiting what food stamps can buy:Singling out low-income individuals or helping fight the battle against obesity? Retrieved June 6, 2011, from Law Journal for Social Justice ai Arizona State University: http://ljsj. wordpress. om/2011/02/02/limiting-what-food-stamps-can-buy-singling-out-low-income-individuals-or-helping-fight-the-battle-against-obesity/ Parker-Pope, T. (2007, December 5). High Price for Healthy Foods. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from The New York Times: well. blogs. nytimes. com/2007/12/05/a-high-price-for-healthy-foods/ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program:Legislative History, The Food Stamp Act of 1964. (n. d. ). Retrieved June 8, 2011, from USDA Food and Nutrition Service: http://www. fns. usda. gov/snap/rules/Legislation/history/PL_88-525. htm

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