Imagine you live in Pella and nobody in your family has a car. How do you get food? Perhaps you can walk to one of Pella’s three grocery stores: Walmart, Fareway, or Hy Vee. But it’s more likely that you are within walking distance of a fast food place. There are nine fast food places in Pella, so you are much more likely to be within walking or biking distance of one of these places. If you can’t drive in Pella, your access to healthy and nutritious foods is severely limited. You’re much more likely to eat fast food.
Hunger and obesity are not normally things you would associate with each other; however, the two are linked in surprising ways. According to stateofobesity.org, 33% of those who did not graduate high school are obese, compared with 21.5% of those who graduated from college or technical college. Similarly, children living below the federal household poverty level have an obesity rate 2.7 times higher than children living in homes above the poverty line. People living in poverty are less likely to own cars, and are hence, less likely to be able to access healthy foods.
Factors other than access to healthful foods are also important in understanding this issue. Fast food is just that, fast and convenient. People who earn minimum wage often have to work long hours to earn enough money, and therefore, have less time to prepare healthful foods and are more likely to rely on fast food. Another important factor to understanding this issue is stress. Living near to or below the poverty line causes massive amounts of stress. In addition to the biological connection between stress and obesity, stress can cause people to eat more food or less healthy foods.
The way to fix this issue is to support candidates that support programs that help to feed the hungry, programs like SNAP and WIC. Another way to help is to donate to or volunteer with local food shelters, like the Pella Food Shelf. Poverty and obesity are two of the biggest issues facing American society, however; with work and understanding, they can be fixed.