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The Sad Truth: Poor People Are More Likely To Get Fat

The Sad Truth: Poor People Are More Likely To Get Fat

For centuries people have associated being overweight with being rich. And for centuries, this assumption was true. Being obese was a sign of abundance, it meant never going hungry and always having more than enough to eat.

Today, the opposite is true. People living in poverty are more likely to be overweight and obese. This is because low socioeconomic communities tend to lack access to nutritious food, live sedentary lifestyles, and eat large portion sizes that are high in fat.

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There are two main reasons why people with low incomes are more likely to be obese:

High-Fat, Processed Foods Are Cheaper

When an apple consists of only 1 ingredient and a package of cookies consists of more than 30, why is the apple more expensive per calorie? According to Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the cookies are made of corn, soy, and wheat based ingredients – 3 of the most heavily subsidised crops in the market. These subsidies allow the cost of fat, sugar, and processed carbohydrates to stay low.

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High fat, processed foods are the cheaper alternative thanks to subsidies. To illustrate this, let’s consider the following: the cost of fruits and vegetables increased by 40% (number adjusted for inflation) between 1985 and 2000. The cost of soda, on the other hand, decreased by 25%.

Unhealthy Foods Are Often More Filling And Seem To Be More Cost-Effective

As unhealthy foods are loaded with unhealthy fats contributing to high calories, they make people feel fuller. When a pack of salad has the same price as a fast food set, low income people are more likely to choose the latter one as it seems to be more cost-effective (in terms of level of filling and calories).

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Obesity researcher Dr. Adam Drewnowski conducted a study to see how many calories he could buy while comparing healthy food with the unhealthy ones.

Turns out, his dollar could get him around 1,000 calories in cookies and chips. That same dollar could only get around 250 calories in carrots. Since households with limited finances try to purchase cheap, filling foods, the choice becomes clear. Foods with refined sugar, processed grains, and added fat are a more cost-effective solution in the short term. Consequently, these same foods lead to an overconsumption of calories and weight gain.

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How to Eat Cheap and Healthy

Despite all of these obstacles, there are ways to avoid foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. The trick is to look for nutrient dense foods to get more bang for your buck.

  1. Buy frozen and canned vegetables. Many people seem to think these options are not as healthy as fresh produce, but that simply isn’t true. In fact, some evidence indicates that frozen vegetables may have higher nutrients than fresh. This is because they are picked and immediately frozen, preserving their vitamins and nutrients. Add frozen and canned vegetables to soups, stir-frys, pasta dishes, and even sandwiches.
  2. Eat more eggs. Eggs are an excellent source of cheap protein and healthy fat. Prepare them for in an omelette for breakfast, hard-boiled on a sandwich for lunch, or scrambled with rice for dinner.
  3. Beans are often overlooked as a cheap and healthy food option. Refried beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans can often be found in cans in convenient stores. Not only are they loaded with protein, but also healthy fat and carbohydrates. Mix whole beans into soup or spread refried beans on whole-grain corn tortillas for lunch or dinner.
  4. Complex carbohydrates can be difficult to find, particularly in food deserts. Good choices for cheap, nutrient-dense options are oatmeal, brown rice, and corn tortillas.
  5. Don’t forget fruits. By saving money on some of the above ingredients, you should be able to stretch your dollar to include fruits in your diet. Watermelon and bananas are particularly cheap choices. Watermelons offer vitamin A and C, lycopene, and magnesium. Bananas are full of potassium. Both are pretty filling options.

Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

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Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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