Food And Class Essay

2224 words - 9 pages

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How Class Affects Food ChoicesSocial class can be defined by the structural, economic or cultural components that lead to the unequal divisions that exist within society. There have always been rich people and poor people in America and in a capitalist economy; food also marks a border between the haves and the have-nots. What people eat has become a marker of social status. As the distance between the rich and poor continues to grow, the freshest, most nutritious foods have become luxury goods that only some can afford. The wealthy will always eat well. It is the poor and working people in the United States who need a new, sustainable food system more than anyone else. They live in ...view middle of the document...

S. health care expenditures (Crawley).Obesity researchers have long studied the relationship between the neighborhood food environment, socioeconomic status and rates of chronic diseases. Many researchers agree that low-income urban neighborhoods are a problem because of their abundance of convenience stores, fast food outlets, and liquor stores, as well as a lack of well-stocked grocery stores. However, the impact that these neighborhoods have on overall health depends on whom you ask. Some researchers have hypothesized that low-income urban neighborhoods inhibit physical activity because people might fear walking in their community. However, other researchers have suggested that because many of the residents of these same neighborhoods don't have cars, they actually walk just as much as anyone else (Guthman 74). Although many poor neighborhoods are indeed food deserts, meaning that the people who live there don't have access to a decent supermarket, many are not. The hypothesis that food deserts result in lower diet quality and greater obesity risk for nearby consumers, is a central theme of the White House Childhood Obesity Task Force report and the $400 million healthy food financing initiative. However, evidence on how the food environment relates to obesity is still ambiguous and is more tentative than presented in the media and policy arguments. The Task Force's recommendation on increasing the number of supermarkets in order to reduce childhood obesity only references a single study that associated nearby chain supermarkets with lower adolescent BMI and convenience stores with higher BMI (Shier 728). Most public health studies on the neighborhood food environment have just focused on types of stores and their geographic placement, yet marketing research has long documented the influence of in-store shelf-space on consumer behavior. The larger mega-supermarkets do have a wide variety of healthy food options such as fruits and vegetables, but at the same time, they also increase the availability of unhealthy options that are filled with artificial ingredients and toxic pesticides, as well as added salt, corn syrup and trans-fats. The assumption that obesity is simply normal for people with low socioeconomic status because they lack the income to buy healthy food, live in food-insecure environments, or are prone to stress-eating and self medication is contradicted by data that shows little difference in total caloric energy intake or macronutrient composition among different income groups (Darmon 1107). While a steadfast loyalty to a nutritional explanation for obesity via the energy balance model neglects other possible environmental explanations, the energy balance model, while often cited, is not necessarily indicative of outcome. This is most likely due to overall poor nutritive value of the foods consumed (Flatt). Although class can be manifested in bodily differences, because of long-term exposure to particular labor regimes,...

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