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The Intersection of Food Insecurity and Obesity

The link between food insecurity and obesity is truly a paradox. One might think poor access to food would result in thinness or even malnutrition. Although this is accurate in cases of extreme hunger, the families most affected by food insecurity are also most vulnerable to obesity. Many factors lead to this connection including lack of resources, limited access to healthcare, and low income.

Families with low income often live in low-income neighborhoods which lack resources that higher-income neighborhoods possess. This includes places to get consistently fresh foods like farmers markets or fresh format grocery stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joes. You would more likely find fast food restaurants and convenience stores selling low cost, low nutrition, and high calorie food.

In addition, healthy food is generally more expensive and has a shorter shelf life than processed food. And when healthy food is available - especially fresh produce- it is often poorer quality in low-income neighborhoods.

Food insecure families also may rely on low-cost, high-energy foods, like fast food and frozen meals. In addition, people who are skipping meals to stretch a budget may overeat when food becomes available. Both of these can lead to overconsumption of energy and result in obesity.

Families who are food insecure and have low low-incomes also can have difficulty accessing and affording healthcare. This results in a lack of proper screening, diagnoses, and treatment for obesity. And when maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes more difficult it also becomes less of a priority.

When all of these seemingly insignificant factors combine, the intersection of food insecurity and obesity becomes clear. Gladewaves recognizes this link and is committed to help . When choosing meals to place in our Big Red Boxes we try to consider what those in need of food would enjoy eating, is non-perishable, and will provide nutrition. Common items you might find in our boxes include rice, beans, canned vegetables, and oatmeal. By placing nourishing options in our barrier free food pantries, we hope that maintaining a healthy lifestyle will become slightly easier for our food insecure neighbors.

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