This week in class we were able to watch a very informative documentary about the relationship between income levels and health wellness in America. In this documentary, people from different income levels, races, and communities were interviewed about their daily lives in order to give us an idea of their stress levels, income allocation, and access to health care. Prior to watching this film, I had always thought that people who received higher levels of income, such as CEOs, had higher levels of stress and would be more prone to health problems because of it. I had always believed the idea of the CEO having a heart attack at 45 to be a common occurrence. After watching this film I realized that diet had a huge effect on the health of lower income people. I always knew that cheaper food was usually more processed food and that health food had a higher price tag, but I had never connected the dots between income, diet and health.
A study done by Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology made a direct connection between lower income families with irregular working hours and/or the need to work more than one job and an increase in fast food consumption in the household. This type of diet leads to childhood obesity and health problems for both the children and their parents. Food that is prepared outside of the home tends to have a lower nutritional value than food prepared inside the home. It has been found that these meal are usually higher in calories, fat, salt and sugar while containing a lower amount of fruits and vegetables.
I can definitely see the reasoning for fast food seeming like the easy answer for a parent who is working two jobs and trying to feed a family. When my mom worked two jobs when I was a kid, she would come home at night with whatever she would pass on the way home. As a child, I didn’t think anything of it, but even if I did understand what I was eating how could I ask anything more of a person who was coming home exhausted after a long day? My mom wasn’t trying to provide an inadequate diet, and I honestly do not think she knew that she was at the time, but with a limited income and limited time, a fast life meant fast food.
Cornell University Study: http://www.human.cornell.edu/outreach/upload/CHE_DNS_Devine_Time.pdf