Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Obesity Linked to Zip Code
Pale skin once signaled wealth. It implied that person didn't work long hours outside engaged in manual labor. While that may still be true in some parts of the world, in the United States tanned skin has come to signal what pale skin once did. A person with tanned skin signals they have the wealth and leisure to travel to sunnier locales, especially during winter.
Weight and wealth go hand in hand too.
But whereas in other parts of the world poverty is associated with an emaciated physique, in the United States it's the opposite. Poor people are fat. That's not just a gut instinct captured for political commentary in a cartoon like the one above - it's born out in the data.
A new study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine found that where one lives is a better predictor of obesity than income or education. The study used telephone interviews of 8,000 people living in the Seattle metro area. "Obesity rates reached 30 percent in the most deprived areas but were only around 5 percent in the most affluent ZIP codes" according the press release of the study.
Why is obesity related to poverty? The author of the press release implies it might be linked to access to healthy foods or opportunities for exercise; i.e. impoverished neighborhoods don't have a Whole Foods down on the corner or tennis courts, walking trails, or pools. Maybe that's part of the problem. Dependence on fast foods, prepared packaged processed foods and soda pop might be another BIG culprit. Apparently the vast majority of people who drink soda drink the fully leaded kind, and with an average of 2 a day, the calories can add up fast. Perhaps soda is the problem. It certainly costs a lot less than milk. Perhaps people working multiple low paying jobs don't have the time to prepare food at home and instead fall back on what's easy and cheap.
What do you think - - Why is obesity linked to property value?