Friday, February 5, 2010

The Economics of Obesity: Why Are Poor People Fat? By Jon Herring

Below are just 3 snippets from an excellent article by Jon Herring. I highly recommend that you read the entire piece.

The Economics of Obesity: Why Are Poor People Fat
Jon Herring

Professor and obesity researcher, Dr. Adam Drewnowski set out to determine why income is the most reliable predictor of obesity in the U.S. To do this, he took a hypothetical dollar to the grocery store. His goal was to purchase as many calories as possible per dollar.

What he found is that he could buy well over 1,000 calories of cookies or potato chips. But his dollar would only buy 250 calories of carrots. He could buy almost 900 calories of soda… but only 170 calories of orange juice.

In a New York Times article, author Michael Pollan asks this very question…

“Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudo-cakes for less than a bunch of roots?

It is completely insane that in a country where the surgeon general has identified “an epidemic of obesity” that we are simultaneously subsidizing the production of high-fructose corn syrup. It is equally insane that the government is helping to artificially lower the cost of foods that are driving up national healthcare costs (i.e. killing us), while having a national healthcare debate about how we are going to pay for those costs.

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