Obesity for Low Income Americans
America is in the midst of an obesity epidemic where more than thirty-six percent of
Americans are considered obese. The epidemic is affecting the poor even worse as they are 1.66
times more likely to be obese. A newspaper article in The Harvard Gazette describes a study
done at Harvard that found it is more expensive to eat healthy than to eat unhealthy. The Food
Research and Action center also published an article where they attempted to examine why poor
people are more susceptible to obesity. In addition, an article in a National Institute of Health
journal examined whether federal taxes and subsidies were effective in improving public health,
and it found that federal subsidies decreasing prices of fruits and vegetables were effective.
These sources show that the high obesity rates for people in poverty are caused by the
increasing price gap between healthy and unhealthy foods and can be solved through
government subsidies that make healthy food more affordable.
Chacloupka, F., Chriqui, J., Khan, T., Powell, L., & Wada, R. (2013). Assessing the Potential
Effectiveness of Food and Beverage Taxes and Subsidies for Improving Public Health: A
Systematic Review of Prices, Demand and Body Weight Outcomes. National Institute of
Health Journal, 14(2): 110–128. doi:10.1111/obr.12002
In this 2013 journal article, the authors explain the results of a study conducted to see
how effective taxes and subsidies were in improving public health. Because of the obesity
epidemic, the government has implemented higher taxes on fast foods and sugar-sweetened
beverages to make them more expensive and subsidies on fruits and vegetables to make them
cheaper. The study attempted to examine the effect that changes in price of foods would have on
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consumers demand for healthy or unhealthy foods and the consumers body weight. The study
found that the taxes on fast food did not significantly affect the demand or the consumers body
weight outcome. However, the study did find that the subsidies on fruit and vegetables resulted
in lower body weight outcomes, especially for low-income people. This source is very relevant
to helping control the obesity epidemic for the poor because the study was able to show that
government subsidies that attempt to lower the cost of healthy food can be effective in lowering
consumers’ body weight. The article also references twenty other scientific studies that found
similar results. All of this scientific data will be very helpful in developing a persuasive
argument. This source is highly credible as it is a peer reviewed academic journal. In addition,
all five of the authors have a PhD and do research at University of Illinois.
Feldscher, K. (2013, December 5). Pinpointing the higher cost of a healthy diet. The Harvard
Gazette. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/12/pinpointing-thehigher-cost-of-a-healthy-diet/
Feldscher’s 2013 article in The Harvard Gazette analyzes and explains a study done at
the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to find if eating a healthy diet was more expensive
than an unhealthy diet. The research did a meta-analysis of twenty-seven different studies that
had already been conducted and combined the price data from these studies to determine if
healthy foods were more expensive. The researchers found that healthy foods like fruit and
vegetables cost significantly more than unhealthy foods like processed foods and refined grains.
They found that on average it costs $550 per year more to eat healthy. Researchers admit that
this is a small price for the average American household, but this $550 does present a real
problem for low income families. This article would be helpful in arguing that healthy food
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needs to be made less expensive because it gives evidence that healthy food is costlier. It also
shows that this increased cost is having a greater effect on low-income individuals. This article
is credible because it is analyzes a scientific study and provides factual opposed to opinionated
information. In addition, the author also has a PhD and does research at Harvard.
Food Research and Action Center. (2017). Why Low-Income and Food-Insecure People are
Vulnerable to Poor Nutrition and Obesity. Retrieved from http://frac.org/obesityhealth/low-income-food-insecure-people-vulnerable-poor-nutrition-obesity
The Food Research and Action Center researches and attempts to find solutions to health
related issues. In this particular webpage, they analyze why low income people are increasingly
vulnerable to obesity. One reason if they lack access to nearby grocery stores or transportation
to go to a grocery store. Also, healthy food is often of worse quality in poorer areas. In addition,
there are fewer opportunities for physical activity with fewer parks and more crime. Poor people
have less access to health care, so they cannot be diagnosed for health problems like obesity.
The Food Research and Action Center feels these factors have combined to make low income
people more susceptible to obesity. This source is relevant to the topic of increased obesity for
lower income individuals because it provides many reasons and explanations for why this
problem is occurring. It is a reliable source because it contains references to many other research
studies. This makes this source very useful for a persuasive argument because its arguments are
backed up by scientific data.
Obesity has become an ever-increasing problem for people in low income communities.
The Food Research and Action Center explains many of the reasons why this is the case
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including lack of access to grocery stores, little opportunities for physical activity, and lack of
access to health care. An article in the Harvard Gazette claims studies are showing another
reason may be the increasing price gap between healthy and unhealthy foods. In addition, a
scientific journal written by researchers at the University of Illinois found that government
subsidies that attempt to decrease this price gap can be effective in lowering the percent of low income
Americans that are obese. The sources show that obesity for low-income Americans is a
real problem that may be able to be solved by making healthy foods more affordable.
Obesity for Low Income Americans