Contrary to popular belief, food insecurity, and obesity can, and sometimes do, affect the same individuals. The United States Department of Agriculture defines food security as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” People who struggle to meet these criteria are considered food insecure.
A recent study was performed on over 7,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 18. The researches found that the families most affected by food insecurity are also the most vulnerable to obesity. It’s puzzling at first, isn’t it? How can the nation’s most-likely candidates for malnourishment also be the most likely candidates for obesity? Here's why it makes sense.
Why are food insecure people at a higher risk for obesity?
Food insecurity is largely attributed to low income, and as the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) explains, low-income neighborhoods often lack locations that promote healthy exercise such as parks, designated forests, and gyms. According to FRAC, “those who are eating less or skipping meals to stretch food budgets may overeat when food does become available, resulting in chronic ups and downs in food intake that can contribute to weight gain.”
Low income neighborhoods also lack resources such as farmers markets where fresh-ripe, locally-grown produce is readily available. Instead, these neighborhoods are surrounded by convenience stores with limited access to nutritious protein,whole-grains, produce, and dairy. Many people in these areas do not have a vehicle, which is a major determining factor in whether or not a family has access to affordable and nutritious food.
Limited Access to Healthcare
The United States passed the Affordable Health Care Act in 2010, and even today many low income earners still have difficulties getting affordable healthcare with the coverage that they need. As a result, these people are unable to receive a proper screening for food insecurity, which makes them ineligible for referrals for food assistance. They are also unable to receive diagnosis or treatment for obesity.
It is important to note, as we bring things to a close, that ALL three of these things that I have listed have a solution. We can fix these issues by donating healthier, more nutritious foods to the local food bank when we clean out our pantry, or maybe by petitioning our cities to add a recreational park if we don’t have one. These are only two of many, many ways we can make a difference in the lives of those who face food insecurity, and it is up to us to determine how we are going to make these changes.
Learn how you can get involved and join our fight to end hunger.