This NY times article on the Obesity-Hunger Paradox is worth the read (thanks to Rob for sending my way!).
The article quotes Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, who says: “Hunger and obesity are often flip sides to the same malnutrition coin… Hunger is certainly almost an exclusive symptom of poverty. And extra obesity is one of the symptoms of poverty.”
Many poor neighborhoods simply do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. People are not starving, but they are “food insecure.” If the only food available/affordable is fried foods, doughnuts, etc, then that is obviously what people are going to eat.
This is a ripe area for some creative and innovative thinking, and New York City has come up with some good ideas. One solution is “Health Bucks,” where the city encourages the use of food stamps at farmers’ markets by giving an extra $2 for each $5 spent there. Other solutions include getting fresh fruit and vegetable carts into poor neighborhoods, and providing tax credits for grocery stores that move to these areas.
In my view, research on healthy food is useless if people aren’t able to apply it to their lives. It seems that before anything else, we need to figure out how to get basic, nutritious, health-full foods to neighborhoods that need them the most.