The Truven Health Blog

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By Truven Staff

Poverty and Obesity: This Is a Link That We Need to Break

Mike Taylor imageIt’s no secret that obesity has become a significant health risk in the US, especially in the last 25 years. In many states, more than 30% of the population is obese, and the rates are climbing every year.  As has been reported, obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, certain cancers and many other chronic diseases that lead to billions of dollars in healthcare costs annually. As a society, we certainly have a financial incentive to reverse our weight gain. Those who would benefit the most are, sadly, too often the people who have no real means of achieving this.

The link between obesity and poverty has been recognized but often under-reported.  Many inner cities are effectively “food deserts”, with few if any sellers of high quality food. Fruits and vegetables are often in short supply and may be prohibitively expensive. Gardening is often not an option or an available skill.  High calorie foods laden with fat and carbohydrates are much cheaper and more available than high quality foods in inner cities. On top of these challenges in obtaining decent food, even pound-shedding physical activity can be out of reach because safe areas to exercise are often not available.

The US obesity problem is complex—only for some is it a matter of diet; for many people living in poverty, obesity is just one result of a socio-economic dilemma. Public health solutions need to be wide reaching and address more than dietary approaches for this unhealthy part of our population.

Michael L Taylor, MD FACP
Chief Medical Officer
Categories: Truven Health