America’s poor, who are more likely to be plagued with poor nutrition and stricken with obesity than higher income groups, statistics show, are also more likely to get their meals from fast food restaurants. Where else can you get a days’ worth of calories for $5, no preparation required?
And this is the problem that bedevils a growing group of food policy experts, who see the external costs of such dietary choices in the rising cost of obesity and diet-related health problems. It’s a vicious circle, too: Children who are raised in households in which they receive low-quality food are more likely to be poor themselves, in addition to suffering from diet-related diseases and struggling in school.
There’s even evidence that high-calorie, low-nutrient-value diets (think sodas, french fries and low-quality proteins like hamburgers and chicken nuggets) contribute to aggressive risk-taking behavior.
All these concerns paint a picture of a sad, endless loop: Low income leads to unstable homes, unfortunate health outcomes and poor nutrition; unstable homes, unfortunate health outcomes and poor nutrition lead to lower incomes. And while we’re at it, the circumstances of low income and poor nutrition are related to high debt (from health care bills) and poor success in school and criminal convictions.
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