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The dual burden of being overweight and undernourished

March 24, 2011 by Laura

The dual burden of being overweight and undernourished.

Editorial in the Seattle PI illustrating some of the larger social and economic forces affecting how we eat. Please discuss.



  1. Christina Jones says:

    Good choice of topic, Laura. And I couldn’t agree more. It didn’t take much real research for me to reach that conclusion. I live in one of the poorest counties in Ohio, and it is a real shame when I go to the local grocery store. They have stopped offering organic produce altogether, and when I ask why, “Don’t nobody buy it.” I won’t even go into the education issue! But I see many people there on public assistance, and I can’t keep myself from discreetly looking at what is in their carts. It is often chock full of processed foods in brightly colored boxes, snack foods, etc. I believe that it is an economic choice, but I also believe that it’s a pattern of what they probably saw growing up poor. Sadly, your beloved roasted chicken, which could provide not only a helthy protein source, but when you are done an inexpensive base to make soup, is not permitted for them to buy. ?? The whole thing makes no sense.
    I do acknowledge reality. We are a small family of 3, and our grocery bill can be $600/mo. Not an insignificant number to those struggling. I also have the luxury of having been taught how to make something nutritious out of very little. I don’t know the answer to the problem, wouldn’t even know where to begin. The one-two punch of education and economics is (not to be punny) of the chicken-egg variety, no?

  2. Laura Frank says:

    Great article! And as a side note, I am very psyched you are doing this blog.
    I just wrapped up doing all our financial accounting for 2010 and our grocery costs went up 27% from 2009. Our habits have not changed that much. We alway shop at the local co-op, we favor organic foods, we we’re already shopping at the high end of food costs for two people. But not only are we spending more on groceries, we are spending more on eating out.
    Food costs are going up and so I feel the economic component to diet will have to come forward as our nation gets even more obese. I am waiting for the day the diabetes and diet become the issue smoking was 20 years ago. It’s unsustainable.

  3. Craig says:

    Proximity does not necessarily equate to causation. The model is more complex than the article suggests and involves multiple vectors. For example, the article ignores the role played by urban/suburban infrastructure, which arises from fundamendal community development decisions like zoning and density. It also fails to mention that a heavily centrally regulated food production/distribution economy, like we have, actually enables and fosters the growth of franchies “food” distribution methods such as McDonald’s. Note whas has happened to “organic” foods since the federal organic food act several years ago. The concept is gradually becomming diluted to the point where most “organic” items in the grocery stores are merely higher priced mirrors of their “conventional” cousins on shelves in other parts of the grocery store. For example, when the government makes it easy to distribute and sell Coca Cola but illegal to sell fresh unpasteurized apple cider it’s no surprise that we see a subsequent increase in obesity and diabetes.

  4. slow engine says:

    I think the piece in the PI is a little heavy-handed– too easily does he toss aside serious contributing factors as conventional wisdom. But his conclusion is probably true. If over a hundred million people can’t afford healthy foods, don’t know how to prepare them, and are too far away to make them a practical consideration, that’s trouble with a capital T.
    Christina Jones is right, too. Education and economics is a one-two punch. Progress is achingly slow because change is organic, at the roots of social and economic class. But make no mistake, that’s the way change will come, and it is likely for the best. I am not dismayed that the gov’t isn’t more involved. To see food and exercise become a political casualty is too dark to contemplate.

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