In recent years, much media coverage regarding the current overweight and obesity situation has focused on the impact of socioeconomic status.
Specifically, that focus has been on how the overweight and obesity crisis has hit the lower class particularly hard. While we agree the epidemic has landed in this class, it is by no means discriminating. People of all classes, status, race, as well as ethnic origin are susceptible. “The fact is that obesity is increasing in all races, all income categories, and at a faster rate with people in higher incomes,” says the University of Iowa’s Jennifer Robinson, MD, an associate professor of epidemiology in a recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.
In today’s world, almost all of us have access to low cost, healthy foods. But it’s the food choices we make that determine, in large part, our ever-increasing body fat composition. Do we choose the clean and healthy foods that often can be viewed as boring? Or do we more often opt for those of salty, savory and sweet that we’ve become accustomed to?
Let’s look at a few scenarios for dining out on different budgets
Scenario 1: The franchise chain of seafood restaurants where a family on a tight budget can afford to occasionally dine out. Let’s examine a night out in their shoes. They start with a beverage, maybe a beer or a soda. The dinner rolls with tabs of butter arrive and before you know it, 600-800 calories have been consumed before they’ve actually ordered. Yes, there are healthier options on the menu: a Shrimp cocktail appetizer, and grilled Cod with steamed rice pilaf and veggies as an entree. But the breaded Zucchini with Ranch dressing and the Shrimp Scampi loaded with succulent butter sounds delicious. And the fried fish special with fries and slaw just seem like the ticket! Wow, they’ve each consumed upwards of 1500 calories and they haven’t even gotten to desert or after dinner drinks yet. It is important to note the healthier options were available; but these options simply did not meet their desires.
Scenario 2: The high-priced steakhouse where the appetizers run $18 a piece, the food choices are all al a carte, with an individual steak north of $30, side entrees are $10 or more a piece, side salad for $15, and a bottle of wine can run in the hundreds. Okay so there’s a small part of society that can actually afford this type of dining on a regular basis. They should all be lean, right? Then why aren’t they?
Now let’s examine a night out in their shoes. They sit down and immediately are asked what type of beverage they would like. Well, they are dining at one of the finest restaurants in the city, they’re certainly not going to order just water or unsweetened iced tea. So maybe they start with a glass of the aged Merlot. At the same time, a fresh loaf of warm Poppy Seed bread arrives, with a special blended butter dip, and suddenly they’re at a whopping 600-800 calories consumed before they’ve actually ordered dinner. As they look at the menu, they scan past the boring grilled Chicken breast served with a baked Potato and Green Beans. Instead they start with the fried Calamari as an appetizer, and for an entrée: The Filet Mignon with Béarnaise sauce, served with the house Garlic mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and Lobster mac & cheese. As in Scenario 1, they’ve each racked up well upwards of 1500 calories before desert or after dinner drinks. Again, it is important to note, healthier options were available, but the desire for the mouthwatering tastes was just too much.
Scenario 3: These two different socioeconomic levels merge together, both landing tickets to Monday night’s game! And while not everyone is sitting at the 50-yard line, (some budgets only allow for end zone or “peanut heaven” tickets) we all have access to the nachos and cheese, the delicious hot dogs, the soft pretzels with dipping sauce, the beer, the soda, the…ok, ok we’ve made our point… and we think we’re getting hungry.
But the real point here is no matter the resources we have at our disposal (i.e., no matter where we can afford to “sit and be spectators”), we’re all still tempted by unhealthy foods, and often the same unhealthy foods. And as a result, we are all falling victim to the overweight and obese epidemic.
Bottom line: The overweight and obese epidemic is not a socioeconomic problem. It’s a “we all want our cake and we want to eat it too” problem.
We can try and place blame on the food industry and its marketing antics. We can try to place blame on the myth of healthy food costs more. Or that we’re too busy with work or raising a family. Or it’s because we’re part of a particular class or status.
Regardless of status, we are all still tempted with foods of decadence.
We must realize that the overweight and obese epidemic does not discriminate. We are fortunate enough to live in a society where food is readily available (so much so that we have to determine what not to eat, while so many others in this world wonder if they will eat at all).
We must adapt to Mother Nature’s rules of simply eating foods you can fish, grow, and butcher. As long as we follow her rules, we’ll be leaner and healthier beings…but as long as we continue to defy her, she will rear her ugly head, regardless of class, status, race, gender or ethnicity.
Follow the rule of primarily eating foods you can fish, grow and butcher…foods that are available to most everyone. This rule promotes a leaner body and a healthier life.
Week 17 Quiz:
1): The overweight and obese epidemic is strictly a result of: a) the food industry and its marketing antics b) most of us are just too busy with work or raising a family c) healthy food costs more than non-healthy food d) none of the above
2) Which meal would likely be the healthiest and lowest calorie option? a) Grilled Cod with steamed rice pilaf and veggies b) Breaded Zucchini with Ranch dressing and the Shrimp Scampi loaded with succulent butter c) Filet Mignon with Béarnaise sauce, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach and Lobster mac & cheese d) Fried fish and fries
3) Regardless of socioeconomic levels, we’re all still tempted by unhealthy foods, and often the same unhealthy foods: a) True
4) If we follow Mother Nature’s rules of primarily eating foods you can fish, grow, and butcher, we’ll be leaner and healthier beings. a) False b) True
Once you've taken the quiz, click here to see how you did.