Oct 15, 2014

Obesity and Lack of Education.... One Woman's Story

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I read a blog post by Roni over at Roni's Weigh and it was titled "Too Poor to be Healthy"I have seen stories all over the internet about a 25 yr old single mother of 2 who lives on government benefits and is extremely obese.  Per the Daily UK, she has been told by her doctor that she is in danger with her health yet she states she cannot afford to eat healthy because vegetables and healthy food are too expensive.  She also states that a gym membership would reduce the amount of Chinese takeout and chocolates she can get.  She believes a good solution would be to have "more government benefits so she can afford a gym membership or to receive healthy food vouchers."

Roni's post ended up stirring some negative comments.  It seems, that the point is missed.  There was a positive message to be heard and it wasn't slamming the young lady that the story was about.  It was just pointing out the lack of education that exists in society today when it comes to food and nutrition-even exercise which doesn't have to be at a gym.  Just like what was demo'd in a previous post and some of the images below are older shots I took in my living room.








Many of you saw the post about the movie Fed Up.  A large portion of the message in the movie was that we (Americans) do not always have the full story in how to be nutritionally sound and eat properly to support our health.  The suggestion is that if people were better educated they could be more properly prepared to make better decisions.  Obviously, most of us would still want to have a piece of cake at Christmas (or the holiday of your choice) or another goody here or there but increased knowledge allows us to treat the body better. 

I read comments on her post which were stemming from growing up in poverty and how most of us do not know what it is like to grow up somewhere that doesn't even have fruits or vegetables as an option.  Or stove tops to cook with.  According to this article, Food Deserts, there are a lot of places where people live over a mile from the nearest grocery store and do not have vehicles.  The options that are available are fast food, restaurants and cost more to even go to the local convenient store.



Which means that the people are actually paying MORE for everything.  Even junk food.  The stuff that is processed, sugary, packaged and bad for you.  Even fattening.  Poor for your health.  Causing diabetes and other health-related problems.  As I am reading this article I am thinking, if they live in rural areas wouldn't there be farms or other local productions nearby that they could purchase from?  I am not sure.  If there is not, wouldn't it be a good idea to lobby for grocery stores?  Then I read that grocery stores may not be able to afford to survive due to increase in rents and cost of products to their store.  I have to wonder since the government is so involved with keeping the sugar industry happy, why can't they become involved in providing ways for people to have REAL nourishment?

The article goes on to suggest contacting local politicians.  I can say this will probably take a little while to get going because that is how politics and government works but it would be worth it in the long run.  The article also states that it would be good to begin spreading the knowledge, if you live in an area such as a food desert.  I say - why not spread the word even if we DON'T live in a food desert? 

In the comments on Roni's page, there were people who pointed out that the girl had tattoos, piercings and colored hair which could be indications that she may not live in a food desert.  It also indicates that at some point she has had the funding to pay for such items - which are not cheap - and likely could not be afforded by people in poverty situations.  So it seems that it is possible that there is merely a lack of education on how to eat on a budget.

There is nothing wrong with not knowing how to eat on a budget.  It is very common and I see it or hear about it every single day.  The solution is to become educated.  This is a controversial topic because there are people who are not overweight while there are people who are overweight.  These same people may live in poverty.  Please know this is not intended to be offensive.  It is intended to pose solutions to assist those who are overweight.  Especially the ones in poverty situations.  Whether they are overweight or not.

This is something that really struck me because obesity is a HUGE epidemic and I have had lots of clients who thought they were eating healthy but could make a lot of changes to become healthy.  Except they didn't realize it.  Then I see the comments on Roni's page and I can tell that some people may have been offended.  The content of the comments were still respectful and I am glad for that.  (the ones I read) I don't think it's appropriate to make crappy comments about any other person's situation, like was being done toward this woman on Facebook.  I think it is wise to rise up and HELP communities in need.  As well as provide better education for those who want to make changes in their health for the better.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Photo credit:  www.dailymail.co.uk


18 comments:

  1. i think you totally nailed it on the head with this - it's a lack of education and also a lack of responsibility from the government to ensure that the people who live in their country are healthy and know what exactly is in the food they are consuming! I think it can be expensive to eat healthy - but it doesn't have to be and as for gyms...well all working out can be done around your home or in your neighborhood - you don't need a fancy gym, but if you want one then there is always planet fitness for $10-12 a month!!

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    1. Very true. There are cheap gyms. As I have not been to a gym in 3 months I have been doing stuff at home and it is HIGHLY beneficial. And free! Someone mentioned they may not know to even look things up on the internet which may be true but if motivation was encouraged then I think people would start looking to the internet.

      The ones with no internet may also be the ones who live a mile from the store. In which case they have plenty of open space to go for walks.

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  2. SO true! I work in schools that are in food desserts- no one owns cars, the only places you can walk are convenience stores. Plus the parents have no education about food because honestly, we don't learn the real deal about food in school we have to seek out the information (on the internet for me...these families do not have internet..) so they really just don't know. One of my best friends grew up in a similar situation and had never even HEARD of avocado until we lived together! It's hard for me to blame the person when they have never even seen or heard of a lot of these health things. Not to mention if you have never exercised in your life, figuring out where to start and how to start and buying clothes to exercise in (when your family does laundry once/month bc it's all they can afford) is another toughie..

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    1. I read an article about BMI being measured in school and a mother became outraged because a letter was sent home to her that the daughter's BMI was too high for age/height/etc. So it is really a tough thing. I think basic health *should* be taught at school because it seems to have lost value in homes.

      However, at what point is the burden lifted from the school? The schools have quite a bit to try to squeeze in on a low budget. Then there are scenarios where the parent was angry. Even though she had previously signed the document agreeing to have it done.

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  3. I think you pretty much nailed it.

    A lot of it I also think stems from a repetitive negative cycle - generations of family members not knowing where to start - or how to start - or how to make it work for them.

    There has to be motivation to do it though.

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    1. That's a great point. Repetitive cycle is a huge factor. The base fundamentals of our nutrition stems from what we had growing up. Strangely, I don't like soda even though we had a crap load of it in the house as kids

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  4. There is a total lack of education in our country on what is considered healthy. I overheard a conversation between two people about what they were doing to eat healthier to try and loose weight, and they mentioned ordering the veggie fried rice next time they were out instead of sesame chicken. I wanted to be like ummm the problem is the rice fried in fattening oil and tons of sodium...not the chicken...

    The government could do much better for all of us, not just those in poverty. Stop letting money decide what they allow and what they say is unsafe with the FDA. Instead of having kids play dodge ball, teach them how to exercise. Have a nutrition class that is mandatory at some point in public schools.

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    1. A nutrition class is a good idea. Home Ec is something that all kids take these days and I wonder if nutrition could be incorporated into that. I know that budgets don't allow much so maybe plugging it into a class here or there would be a good start.

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  5. This is so tough because its such a mixed bag. Lots of it is lack of education, part of it is ingrained habits, access to healthy foods is another. I feel like the more we think for ourselves and seek out information rather than depend on the government for support/guidance, the better off we'll be.

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    1. I totally agree! There is so much reliance on the government and that could be part of where the problem stems. I don't think the government should carry the burden but I think that the misinformation that they have been behind is a disservice. (like in Fed Up and the arsenic in chicken)

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  6. I think it is so true. We don't really teach nutrition in school anymore. Even the school lunches are grossly high in calories. I heard that in some schools that gym is not even a requirement anymore or they have decreased it from once a day to once a week. Why is health and fitness not more of a priority. Fitness is free!! I get more fruits and veggies than it costs to get a Frozen pizza. Choices.

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    1. I heard that gym was taken away in a few schools due to budget cuts. Kinda like music and/or art in others. It is weird how we went from malnutrition in much earlier years due to lack of funds/food to malnutrition due to overabundance of poor nutrition and overindulgence.

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  7. This really struck me "I have had lots of clients who thought they were eating healthy but could make a lot of changes to become healthy" It's just so true. The way that our society lives on processed food...people just don't know about nutrition and healthy eating obese or not. We could all stand to be educated about it. People with less means don't have the resources of those more fortunate so it makes education even more important!

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    1. Very true. There are people who are not obese yet making poor choices. People with resources making poor choices. People without resources making poor choices. Everyone is doing it!

      This woman's example stood out to me because she was getting bashed for some of the statements she made about being helpless. I just wanted to point out she probably doesn't know any better.

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  8. I think education is such a big thing. People criticize lower income people for not eating healthy, but never take the time to educate them on how they can do it on their miniscule budget.

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    1. The blogger I referred to in my post was making that exact statement. She said she would love an opportunity to help educate. I think that would make a big difference and there are some communities that do it but we need more.

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  9. Lack of education and poverty are just some of the factors that causes malnutrition, both overweight and underweight. Also, nowadays some groups of people think they are being health wise or conscious when they are letting themselves be misinformed. They don't consult the food experts directly nor research about proper nutrition themselves. They base their food preference, and food opinions from non trusted sources which at the end affect them. Some cases are because of lack of education but nowadays I guess there's also increasing number of people who are wrongly educated about proper nutrition. When it comes to spending money for food, people consider healthy eating as expensive when they don't realize that depending their meals on fast food chains, instant and processed food are just making them spend more.

    Najmah from The Fitness Bricks

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    1. I read an article that fast food is now sponsoring the board of dieticians' events. Some of the dieticians were noting that they lunch choices were listed as 'healthy' and were fast food. So, yes, there definitely are situations where education is wrong.... for the sake of a dollar. :(

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