Obesity and poverty are related, in fact strongly related. According to research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the fatter your wallet grows the trimmer your waistline is likely to be. It’s not such a strong relationship for men though. The question is why? A recent article asks “does being poor make women fat or vice versa."
There is a strong correlation for women between obesity and poverty. As one goes up the other does too. We also find that being overweight starts early for poor young women and often follows them into adulthood, but because of societal norms that celebrate and even reward beauty (as defined by slim waistlines and trim legs), heavy women struggle to achieve the same level of success of their skinny counterparts.
Also, If your educational options are limited you’ll likely not earn enough in one job and will take on multiple jobs to make ends meet. That cuts down the amount of time you’ll have available for exercise. In addition, healthier foods such as fresh fruits and veggies are also not likely what you’re filling your basket with.
Are these excuses? Absolutely, not. There are skinny, poor women just as there are successful and wealthy heavy women. Look at Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell, and comedian Mo’Nique. However, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that these women have broken Hollywood's size taboo against plump people.
The Atlantic reports:
Consistent with the findings of the CDC, girls from poorer families tended to have higher body mass at age 18 than their richer female peers, a pattern that didn’t exist for boys. But the researchers also found that among the overweight teens of both sexes, the girls—and not the boys—tended to perform worse in school than their thinner classmates.
Later, at age 54, the subjects demonstrated two similar patterns. First, the women who had come from poorer families as children were more likely to be obese adults; second, women with higher body-mass index were more likely to be poor, regardless of their childhood status. As in adolescence, the effects were less pronounced and less consistent among the men of the study.
These discrepancies, explains study author Tetyana Pudrovska, may be rooted in our notions of what attractiveness looks like: For women, specifically, it looks thin.
… “Girls who are obese, they’re less likely to go to college and less likely to graduate from college,” Pudrova explains. “And one of the reasons is that they have higher levels of substance abuse in high school. They have higher levels of truancy.”
… Women with higher body-mass index, earn less, on average, than their thinner counterparts, and have fewer opportunities for advancement.
But just as weight keeps women from advancing economically, a lack of economic opportunity keeps weight high.
… Obesity leads to poverty leads to obesity, bolstered all along the way by ideas of the acceptable female body—and consequences for those that don’t measure up.
So what do we do?
We don’t legislate or regulate obesity away – a hint to the FLOTUS and the FDA. We change the economic situations that make the predictability and stability of life difficult for those who struggle with weight. As noted, when you’re juggling two or even three jobs, you have no time (and perhaps no money) to go to the gym daily or go running after work.
Friday’s job numbers indicate a falling unemployment number, but it’s not necessarily because more people are back to work, rather, it’s that more Americans have dropped out of the workforce entirely or are working part-time rather than full-time positions.
Our leaders (from the White House to State Houses) have a penchant for trying to regulate what they consider bad behavior such as the soda and trans fat bans or regulations to school lunch. This is like diet pills: it won’t work because of the socio-economic roots of some of the obesity in our nation.
We all know diet pills don’t work, but they’re fast, easy, accessible and lull us into thinking we’re doing something. Real weight loss occurs with exercise, a change in our diet, regularity in planning meals, and a commitment to a new way of life. When that is the approach to poverty reduction, all waistlines and wallets will benefit.