Essay on obesity: healthy Food vs fast food essay

food / nutrition / obesity / health / overweight / poverty / health care / fast food / fat / education / farmer

                              Malnourishment in the United States

Malnourishment in the United States is caused mainly by the consumption of unhealthy, cheap foods that are low in nutrition and staffed with calories and fat. This eventually leads to obesity. As surprising as it may seem, one of the factors affecting obesity is poverty. As a matter of fact, there can be no doubts that poverty and obesity are interconnected. Provided more attention is focused on this link, the health of the Americans can be improved.

According to the statistics, about two-thirds of all American adults and more than one-tenth of American children are either overweight or obese. One-tenth of families suffer from food insecurity such as obesity and hunger, which take place when access to nutritionally satisfactory and safe foods is either restricted or unstable. At first glance it seems illogical as scarcity of food should result in underweight people. Nevertheless, children from families with low income are about 2.6 times as likely as children from rich families to get obese. It means that poor citizens are in some kind of unfavourable conditions when it comes to obesity.

The reality is that not all American households have the financial capabilities to provide satisfactory housing, transportation, comodities, medical assistance, education, food, and clothing that all families need. Many families often have to buy less healthy but cheaper foods instead of healthy but more expensive foods. Unfortunately, usually the most inexpensive option available to these people are foods with low nutritional value as to calorie content. That is why lower income families are at the highest disadvantage of malnutrition.

It has been revealed by a recent study that such health problems linked to obesity, like hypertension and diabetes, are more widespread among people with low income. Each year about $70 billion is spent on health-care due to obesity. Obesity, the condition of an abnormal accumulation of body fat, has a negative effect on different body systems (psychological, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, renal, musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular, and endocrine). Solving the obesity problem can save health care money which could be used for improvement of the living conditions of low income citizenz by paying for housing or college education, for instance.

One of the factors that help bring about obesity in poor families is fast food restaurant chains. They don’t make it a secret in their advertising campaigns that their target customers are lower-class neighborhoods and families. Families that live in the poorest parts of cities and towns are much more exposed to fast food than people living in the richest places. Consequently, families with low income have more chances to buy fast food, although it is much less nutritious than other foods that can be bought for the same price. Despite their cheap price, these foods contain enormous amounts of calories and fat. Typically, calories in junk food come from sugar and fat, but not from whole-grain carbohydrates and fiber that satisfy hunger cravings and provide you with energy.

As a consequence, one will be hungry soon after eating fast food because the body was not satisfied with the lack of nutrition during the last meal. After that, if food is available, more food is ususally consumed, which helps the progress of obesity.

The consumption of more organic foods can combat obesity and malnourishment. Unlike fast food, organic foods are not toxic and have more useful nutrients. However, their price is usually high, and families with low income cannot afford them.

Organic food is expensive due to a number of different factors. Today only one-tenth of American citizens buy organic foods on a regular basis. If the demand for organics grows, ultimately, the price should go down.

To stop the trend of increasing obesity among the families with low income, the first thing to be done is helping the poor abandon poverty. The government should provide money for college education to poor students, so that they could get the opportunity to receive a costly education that would give them higher-income jobs and reduce the current poverty level.  In addition, it would be great if more affordable housing could be built for destitute families to have a safe place to live. After these reforms are made, the poverty level should be reduced and the current problem with obesity will improve.

Moreover, other measures must be taken. It is possible to improve opportunities for exercise and physical education. Currently, physical education courses in poor school areas are usually the first courses to be cut because of insufficient funding. Only upper-class students have access to high-tech gyms and workout facilities to help with weight management and fitness, whereas the lower-class students cannot afford to subscribe to these facilities.

In many poor urban areas there is no space for recreation which is safe for children. The only form of recreation or exercise for the majority of children is physical education. Typically, physical education is offered only once or twice a week, which is insufficient. The governments should do something to re-evaluate its standards for physical education. School is a place where children should be educated about healthy lifestyles. Consequently, physical education should be a part of this educational tool and should be provided most days of the week in public schools.

Improvements can be made to cut the prices of organic food so that people with different incomes can afford buying healthy foods. If organic foods get more popular, their prices will be much lower. Additionally, grocery stores should be stocked with locally grown food but not with food imported across the country or world because the shipping affects the product’s price. Farmers would be able to economize on shipping fees; the environment wouldn’t be so polluted because less gas has to be consumed to ship the products; finally, people would be able to purchase healthy foods at less expensive prices. 

Farmers markets and local vendors are a nice alternative to grocery stores and a great way to buy foods. Not having to pay stores to sell their products, farmers get the entire price of the product, so they can reduce the selling price. State governments should cooperate with farmers and small businesses so that these markets could stay afloat.  Not only do farmers markets offer healthy food at low prices, but also they nurture positive relationships between farmers and community members.


Ebbeling, Cara B., Ludwig, David S., and Pawlak, Dorota B. “Childhood Obesity: Public Health Crisis, Common Sense Cure.”

“Obesity and Hunger in the United States.” May 2003. Bread for the World Institute. Online. 5 Sept. 2005.

Overweight and Obesity: Obesity Trend. (2006). Retrieved from


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