This leads to multiple health problems. Not only are obesity rates higher (with those in poverty reporting nearly a 32 percent obesity rate compared to a 26 percent rate among those not living in poverty), diabetes is another concerning issue. In fact, nearly fifteen percent of those living in poverty have diabetes compared to just over ten percent of non-poverty stricken individuals.
So just why is this nutritional issue affecting our nation’s poor?
According to Think Progress, “many of the poor, including those who rely on food stamps, have to patronize bodegas or mini-marts that sell salty snacks and the kinds of processed foods that cause hypertension, obesity, and diabetes in lieu of fresh produce.”
This has given rise to a widely used term called food deserts. Food deserts are large areas that lack easy access to fresh foods. In other words, it can be tough to eat healthy in these areas because fresh foods simply can’t be found.
“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food,” according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service. “Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.”
The USDA says that approximately 23.5 million people are living in these areas. And over half of these people are considered to be low-income. Further, 2.3 million of these people live in rural areas with a driving distance of more than 10 miles to a grocery store. If you consider that some of those living in these areas may not have cars, this is a terrifying reality.