Do Poor People Ignore the Government's Dietary Advice Because They Can't Afford Healthy Food?


Last month I discussed a front-page story by New Yorks Times science writer Gina Kolata debunking the notion that poor people eat poorly (and too much) because they live in poor neighborhoods with poor access to healthy food, a.k.a. "food deserts." Katherine Mangu-Ward noticed that on the very same day this article appeared, Times blogger David Bornstein was suggesting ways to make food deserts bloom. The headline on her post: "Food Deserts Are Not Real. Also, We Can Fix Them." Bornstein responded by backing away from the notion that food deserts, assuming they exist, have much to do with the (historically astonishing) inverse correlation between income and weight in 21st-century America. But in the process he endorsed another myth: that poor people eat poorly because they can't afford healthy food. Beginning with the acute insight that "the dominant constraint in the lives of low-income people is lack of money," Bornstein suggested that thriftiness is a major cause of obesity:

From 1985 to 2000, the prices of fresh fruits and vegetables rose 40 percent while prices of fats and soft drinks decreased by about 15 and 25 percent, respectively, noted Arielle E. Traub, a Senior Systems Analyst at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation in a report she wrote for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Researchers have found that energy-dense foods (those that contain the most calories per gram, which is to say sweets and starchy foods) — are far less expensive than low-energy and nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables. In fact, measured on a per-calorie basis, they are one tenth the price. 

Hmm. "On a per-calorie basis"? Since junk food is dense in calories by definition, that measure pretty much guarantees it will come out looking like a bargain. A study released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS) takes a different approach, looking at price per edible gram and price per average portion as well as price per calorie. By those first two measures, it finds, "grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and foods high in saturated fat, added sugars, and/or sodium." And despite all the talk about how expensive fruits and vegetables are, an earlier ERS study, based on 2008 data, found that "an adult on a 2,000-calorie diet could satisfy recommendations for vegetable and fruit consumption in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (amounts and variety) at an average price of $2 to $2.50 per day, or approximately 50 cents per edible cup equivalent." The authors of the new ERS study note that total calories are a misleading measure of bang for your buck:

When making food choices, consumers may need to consider the entire cost of their diets. Cheap food that provides few nutrients may actually be "expensive" for the consumer from a nutritional economy perspective, whereas a food with a higher retail price that provides large amounts of nutrients may actually be quite cheap. Consumers should also consider the total daily cost—which is likely the one metric that will have the most relevance to consumers trying to control their food budgets. 

The lead author of the study cited by Bornstein, University of Washington epidemiologist Adam Drewnowski, defends the per-calorie method, telling the Associated Press, "Some of these calories are in fact empty calories, so from the standpoint of nutrition they are not terrific. But the empty calories keep you from being hungry, and this is why people buy them, especially lower-income people." Yet a 2007 New York Times story about Drenowski's study paraphrases him as saying that "it's easier to overeat junk food," partly because "eaters often must consume a greater volume in order to feel satisfied." Andrea Carlson, a co-author of the ERS study, tells A.P., "Using price per calorie doesn't tell you how much food you're going to get or how full you are going to feel." For instance, A.P. adds, "eating a chocolate glazed donut with 240 calories might not satiate you but a banana with 105 calories just might." If it's just a matter of feeling full, cheap, high-fiber foods such as beans, bananas, peas, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole-grain bread, pasta, or cereal look like a better deal than a bag of Doritos or a candy bar. And if it's all about cheap calories, shouldn't people be sucking down buckets of lard and bags of sugar?  

Explaining his calorie-centric view of food choices, Drenowski says (in A.P.'s paraphrase) "there is no government recommendation for how many pounds of food an American should eat each day, but there are federal guidelines that suggest a 2,000-calorie diet." So people who are fat because they routinely overeat and who show no interest in any other part of the government's nutritional recommendations are determined to hit that 2,000-calorie target at the lowest possible price? A visit to the grocery store will not reveal shoppers calculating prices on a per-calorie basis. Any calorie calculation will be working in the opposite direction, as weight-conscious consumers try to minimize their intake per serving and food manufacturers advertise the relatively low calorie content of their products—a puzzling phenomenon if consumers measure value by calories per dollar.

Obviously, not all shoppers are trying to minimize calories, but that doesn't mean they are trying to maximize them. Different consumers have different values, tastes, and preferences, and some would rather eat the calorie-dense foods they enjoy than forgo that pleasure for the sake of better health in the long run. Is that really so hard to comprehend?

Although price matters, a diet that complies with the government's guidelines is readily affordable—a fact that even the eager food nanny Mark Bittman recognizes. Bittman conceded in a New York Times column last fall that "it isn't cheaper to eat highly processed food," saying people who claim "junk food is cheaper than real food" are "just plain wrong." True, that was just two months after Bittman advocated government subsidies for dried legumes, one of the cheapest foods on the planet, in the name of "making healthy food more affordable." But if a fussy foodie like Bittman can see the reality that is on display every day at the local Walmart, there may be hope for public health researchers who insist that people prefer French fries and ice cream because they're cheap.


NEXT: John Stossel on Wealth Disparity and Fairness

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  1. They ignore the government’s diatary advice because.

    1. the advice is stupid, unrealistic, often contradictory and nearly always junk science fad.

    2. They are lazy. They don’t go to McDonalds because it is cheaper than eating at home. They do it because it is easier.

    1. They are lazy.

      Some are, some are just tired. Many of the working poor work manual jobs that take a lot of effort. Combine this with both spouses working and it is more of “I’m too tired” rather than “I’m too lazy.”

      They do it because it is easier.


      1. I think you are generally correct. But still unemployed people on welfare have plenty of time to cook their own meals and still buy frozen pizzas.

        1. Not time, effort.

    2. Also, what’s cheaper? Organic Fair-Trade Brown Rice with Free-Range, fed with the Milk of Gaia tofu-chicken or the 99 cent value menu at McDonald’s?

      1. Just go to the store and buy store brand. If you cook, it is a lot cheaper than eating out.

        1. STORE BRAND?!?!

          But that’s like from a store or something. Even though it’s the same thing, it’s not as healthy as food raised in a pile of cow manure by an honest-to-goodness farmer! (3rd world farmers only need apply)

      2. You say that as if “organic”, “fair_trade”, “free range” or “tofu-chicken” had some sort of relationship to “healthy”.

        1. Sadly, I was watching one of those “Best Foods Ever!” specials on Netflix last night, and in the Top 10 bakeries they highlighted a bakery in Chicago which makes their goods using various “organic” products.

          One of the customers, a mother with her kids, was raving about how great it was coming there every day, and how all of the “organic” and “natural” ingredients were exactly the things her kids needed to eat. I checked online and this place’s cupcakes were higher in fat, sugar, and calories than a pack of Twinkies, and cost about 8x as much.

          Saying a food is “organic” is, to some, exactly like making the sign of the cross.

          1. Yeah, except for the lack of possible pesticide contamination, there really isn’t anything inherent about organically produced food (all food is organic) which makes it healthier to eat. It used to be a pretty good indicator of quality and freshness, but since many larger producers have gotten into organics, that is no longer really the case.

            1. I thought I read somewhere that you’re allowed to use pesticides and still label your produce organic.

              1. Really? So it’s like the whole grass fed/grass finished beef thing?

              2. There are actually some pesticides which are considered organic. But generally, you can’t use synthetic chemical pesticides. I think that they are mostly biological agents or inert mechanical things like diatomaceous earth.

                A good friend of mine runs an organic farm so I get to hear about these things. Organic is obviously not going to feed the world, but I think it is an interesting and worthwhile thing to be pursued on a small scale. There are real problems with overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and I think that organic farming is a good laboratory to experiment with alternatives to what is currently considered “conventional” farming.

                1. This is the same way I feel about organic farming – we’re bound to learn something from it, and who knows what that will be.

                  On the other hand, I am a pretty conventional farmer on the crop side, and feed out my cattle on a ration of corn, soybean hulls, alfalfa and pasture. Grass fed beef truely does not have the fatty marbling that you get with corn fed, and, while that may be healthier, the taste just isn’t as good.

                  The other thing that gets me, is the idea that organic farming is more sustainable. Just in fuel alone, the usage is so much higher. I plant, spray (some herbicide, usually roundup) and harvest.

                  Three passes through the field. The organic guys do fall tillage, spring tillage, plant, cultivate, maybe cultivate again, harvest. 5 or 6 passes, and tractors aren’t getting 30 MPG…

                  1. Many greens are gradually realizing this too. That ‘organic’ isn’t necessarily sustainable. The problem is that they’ve built up the mythology that if it’s ‘natural’ it must be good. Nevermind that agriculture isn’t exactly ‘natural’ in general. But the public has got this idea in it’s head that farming like we did 200 years ago necesarily must be better for the earth. Well, we raped and pillaged the fuck out of the earth 200 years ago. Nobody had any idea whether anything they did would be long-term “sustainable”.

    3. “They are lazy. They don’t go to McDonalds because it is cheaper than eating at home. They do it because it is easier.

      Why does everyone ignore the reality of the situation? People eat junk food because they like the way it tastes. If a super sized order of McDonald’s french fries tasted like Brussels sprouts, then fewer people would eat them.

      1. And if Brussels sprouts tasted like McDonald’s french fries, Bloomberg would be trying to ban them.

    4. Well, there is also Orwell’s account of how the poor eat, and his main point that they eat shit that is bad for them because it is tastier, and their lives kind of suck so they want tasty food.

    5. Very generally speaking, could it be the same traits which result in a person being poor could result in said person being fat? Eg., stupid, lazy, depressed, etc.

  2. Choices? There are no choices. Everything that happens to the poor is by design of the evil rich people. The poor are just automatons that run a rigid program. They aren’t allow to have choices. Nothing is their fault, because they have no agency. Agency implies responsibilities, you right-wing fundy nutjobs.

    1. Nothing says “I hate poor people” like letting them alone to do what they want. Damned heartless monsters.

    2. question related to morning thread that actually applies here.

      Beer and diabetics? Is that one of those things you should be avoiding, but you arent? Or is it just a matter of controlling your sugar/insulin levels and you can correct for it/know what you are doing?

      1. Carbs are really bad for diabetics. Beer is not good.

        1. Beer is reasonably low in carbs, generally under 20g per serving.

          Compared to a coke, thats kick ass carb levels.

          Ethanol, on the other hand, plays around with the blood stuff too.

          1. Ah, there are two noted weapons for diabetics to over come this:

            1) Lantus. A veritable godsend and noted long acting insulin.

            2) The insulin pump for very “brittle” Type II diabetics and Type I-sters.

            I have great hope for autograftic stem cell beta-cell transplants, similar to parathyroid transplants.

            1. But if the auto-immune theory of type I is correct, wouldn’t I have to be on immno-suppressants forever to keep from destroying the transplanted cells?

              1. That’s the kicker: since it is auto-graftic, meaning it comes from you, the likelihood of rejection is pretty remote. It’s the same idea as Rick Perry with his spinal neural tissue procedure.

                The big problem is predicting if and preventing the transplanted cells becoming oncogenic. That is the stumbling block.

                Yes, your interferon levels would have to monitored, but what we don’t know is if the newly transplanted beta-cells would be subject to the same histo-compatibility complex concerns. Think of it like “tweaking” the identity of you beta-cells, but your body still recognizes them and they function the way they are supposed to. Like making your beta-cells Nicholas Cage instead of John Travolta and the auto-immune response is, in essence, fooled.

                1. Nicholas Cage instead of John Travolta


                  Fuck you, John Woo. FUCK YOU.

                2. “…since it is auto-graftic, meaning it comes from you, the likelihood of rejection is pretty remote.”

                  Right, but didn’t the initial tissue in any auto-immune illness self-originate?

                  1. Right, but didn’t the initial tissue in any auto-immune illness self-originate?

                    Yes, but every cell in the body, BP, has a marker on the cell membrane. The idea is to change the markers for the beta-cells, so the offending auto-immune response is not triggered. Type I-sters beta-cells are specifically targeted idiopathically; by using stem cells and engineering them into beta-cells, but with different markers hopes to avoid this and tissue rejection from an allograftic transplant.

                    We still don’t know why it gets triggered, but it is suspected that puberty has something to do with this since most Type I sufferers S/S don’t manifest until this time. Also why girl Type I’s are generally identified earlier than boys.

      2. Both, really. Beer is fairly empty calories, and is mostly carbs (craft beer, especially) so it turns into glucose quickly, and so is something that diabetics should reduce intake of or avoid.

        Ultimately, though, drinking a beer is no worse than eating bread or rice or any other simple carb. Depending on your regimen, you adjust your insulin intake accordingly.

        Fun fact: Hard liquor actually lowers your blood sugar.

        1. Beer is fairly empty calories, and is mostly carbs (craft beer, especially) so it turns into glucose quickly

          But its still like 1/2 the carbs of a soda. And if hard liquor lowers your blood sugar, shouldnt the ethanol in beer do the same, just not to the same level? And probably not enough to offset the ~17 carbs, but somewhat?

          1. But almost no sane diabetic would ever drink a regular soda. I haven’t had one in almost 18 years. So a 20g carb drink is relativity carb-y to someone that rarely takes in a liquid with any carbs whatsoever.

            It’s all about moderation, like everything. Kind of sucks that I’m basically the permanent designated driver, though.

            1. But almost no sane diabetic would ever drink a regular soda.

              Makes sense. About a month ago, I started doing a food diary and tracking calories/fat/carbs/protein. I decided to hold my carb level to 150g per day. Sort of an Adkins-lite. I dont like the idea of ketosis but I do think recommended carb levels are insane (300g per day?).

              Anyway, its basically impossible to fit a soft drink into that limit, especially since I need to fit 0-2 beers per day in. 🙂

              1. 150 seems pretty high unless you get a lot of excercise. There’s nothing wrong with ketosis, either.

                1. Im doing a good bit of exercise. Not extreme, but a solid 30 minutes. And its slowly increasing.

                  The big advantage of 150g is that it is much lower than I was previously consuming and yet its still at a level I can do without quitting (I also exempt dinner Friday thru breakfast Sunday from my diary — on Friday and Sunday I only get 100g on the two available meals).

                  It is kind of a wussy approach, but the goal is twofold:

                  1. Get down to my target weight (btw, looked it up via the BMI discussion below. Im at 28.8 now, my target weight is 25.1, which is still technically overweight by the BMI guidelines)
                  2. Have a eating regimen I can stick to for the rest of my life.

                  Dropping into ketosis is supposed to be temporary, obviously. Im not interested in temporary changes.

                  Speaking of exercise…be back in 30-45 minutes.

        2. Fun fact: Hard liquor actually lowers your blood sugar.

          Yes, through the floor, too. And quickly, depending on how “brittle” the diabetic is.

          1. Ah, and that could be the big problem with beer.

            Ethanol causes a spike downward then the carbs cause a spike upward, making balancing very hard.

            1. Correct robc. That reflux in the BSL is very, very hard on the kidneys and cardiac tissue.

      3. You have hit on my biggest concern for our beloved, purveyor of the perverse.

        I have an ex-GF from a few years ago and our worst arguments (she was a medical lab technician and a Type I diabetic) was over her excessive drinking and her A1C. I can say unequivocally that SF knows what he is doing. More to the point, it is his, his endocrinologist’s, and any relevant family member’s business and he knows the risks involved.

        Diabetics can drink alcohol (on diabetic boards the most popular is Boulevard hefeweizen wheat), but I personally and professionally don’t recommend it.

        1. I drink rarely though, averaging out to around two drinks a week. I almost never drink anything on a week night and go after quality over quantity always.

          1. She drank way, way more than that. Let’s just say the trope of the “Drunken Injun” (she is 1/4 Cherokee and 1/4 Choctaw) is not without merit.

            1. I can’t imagine I’d last very long drinking like that.

              1. Hence, the arguments.

                1. Do you know what has become of her since?

                  1. I do. She’s still alive and kicking. Got married and, from what I understand, cleaned up her act.

            2. Drunk Injuns are not just a trope, they are a skate punk band from San Jose.

            3. Is her name Elizabeth?

  3. Very interesting article. I know that when I’m going all out on healthy, I try to find that sweet spot of fewer calories per gram of mass, and lowest price per unit. Pre-packaged stuff is generally more expensive than fruits or vegetables because they did the labor of preparing it for you. Buying the basics and making it yourself is win win, because you save money and get some exercise making meals.

    1. Also, you have complete control of the calorie inputs when you cook for yourself.

    2. I shop for more calories per dollar.

  4. Now if we could only some how calculate food stamp cash to calorie per weight measures…

    *evil laugh*

  5. Obviously, not all shoppers are trying to minimize calories, but that doesn’t mean they are trying to maximize them.

    When I was young, skinny and poor I used to buy the oil packed tuna (instead of the water stuff) just for the extra calories.

    1. The oil packed tuna tastes better in Tuna Helper. If I’m feeling really elite I’ll sometimes swap out canned salmon which, at $3.00/lb, can be cheaper.

  6. I find on the days I buy mostly unprocessed fresh or canned meats, vegetables and fruits my food bill is lower compared to when I buy the processed stuff.

    1. Yes. The problem isn’t the high cost of healthy food. Many poor people purchase a lot of high-calorie processed food, which is more expensive but easier to prepare. That’s the real issue.

      1. I think the problems are pretty obvious. We’ve invented everything we can to make life as easy as possible from farm equipment to home appliances, therefore most people do not burn even close to the calories we use to. We have also become wealthy enough to pay other people to prepare our food. While this does free us up to do other things, not only do we not burn calories aquiring and preparing the food, we also receive much larger portion sizes as food costs decrease and competition increases. Most of the time when I go out any more if the portion size looks too big, I’ll order a to go box and split the meal in half before I even start eating.

        1. I’ve managed to drop between about 12 pounds over the previous month. I’ve increased my exercise level from 30m to 45m a day, but the biggest gain for me was in reducing my portions.

          Unfortunatly it’s meant I can’t eat out. The portions are too big and I just lack the control to usually not eat what’s in front of me, and the desire to reheat something a couple days later.

          It’s easier, and cheaper, if I just forego the meals out.

          1. Easier, and cheaper, and healthier. While restaurant food can be tastier, it’s also usually loaded with lots more calories. Cheese sauces, cream sauces, butter sauces, parmesan on top, battered, fried food, mayonaise, dressings.

            When cooking for yourself it’s usually easier not to bother with making that lemon-butter sauce or the slice of melted cheese on your grilled chicken. Simple cooking tends to be healthier. It’s hard work to make a breaded fried chicken breast properly.

        2. I just have a really active dog who won’t let me sleep if I don’t take him to the park or run with him at least a couple of miles every day. I also usually have a hot dog or something from a street vendor and some water for lunch, so for dinner I eat as much as I want of whatever I want, and never gain or lose more than a few pounds. Probably helps that I rarely drink anything other than tea and water, and I get cabin fever if I go a weekend without a hike, ski or bike ride.

  7. On Monday Wednesdays and Fridays the media and liberals are telling us how poor people are too fat. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekends, it is all about hunger in America.

    1. but the fat are hungry!

    2. You don’t understand. They’re fat because they can’t get enough food.

  8. Everythnig in moderation, including lard. Some things just don’t taste as the same without using lard. Those are things you should be enjoying on rare special occasions. Not everyday though.

    1. Everythnig in moderation , including lard. Some things just don’t taste as the same without using lard. Those are things you should be enjoying on rare special occasions. Not everyday though.


      1. including moderation

        1. including moderation


      2. I prefer my moderation to be in moderation too.

        Im not an extremist about moderation. Which means Im extreme about a few things.

    2. Keller’s pork belly confit (braised in lard) is teh awesum and absolutely deserving of making up a special occasion.

      Could we henceforth require that Reason articles refer to the NYT dude as “noted food fussybritches Mark Bittman”?

      1. I loved Mark Bittman’s column before he got religion, by which I mean before he decided to revamp his diet and try to impose it on everyone else.

        1. I dunno when he switched. I have his How To Cook Everything and I wasn’t impressed. It should be subtitled ‘As Blandly As Possible’.

  9. is it the sugar?
    “Britain’s annual per capita consumption of sugar was 4lbs in 1704, 18lbs in 1800, 90lbs in 1901 – a 22-fold increase to the point where Britons had the highest sugar intake in Europe.”


  10. There are barriers for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor. There are a large number of people living on social assistance who see their income drained away by housing, and can’t afford to provide an adequate diet for their families.
    The poor have to pay the most when they live in food deserts and depend on convenience stores that charge higher prices than the main retailers.

    1. “There are barriers for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor.

      Bullshit, Nando.
      “There are a large number of people living on social assistance who see their income drained away by housing, and can’t afford to provide an adequate diet for their families.”

      Cites, Nando.
      “The poor have to pay the most when they live in food deserts and depend on convenience stores that charge higher prices than the main retailers.”

      Define “food deserts”, Nando.

    2. Are you being sarcastic by parroting the MSM idiots Nando?

      1. “Cites, Nando.”

        I’m sure his citations would all include the New York Times.

    3. Clearly the solution to that Nando is to go out and protest and make sure that no Wall Marts or other large grocery stores open in areas where poor people live. Because the sensibilities of hipster gentrifiers is just so much more important than the economic well being of the population at large.

      1. Quick Hipster question:

        Almost every day I run into this 30-ish hipster couple. They have a baby and it is carried in one of those slings in the front. But here’s the thing; the woman never is the one carrying the baby. Every single time it’s the guy. WTF is up with that?

        1. The wife has all of the testosterone I guess. I have told my wife if we ever have a baby, I will so a suitcase handle on the kid before I would wear on of those things.

          1. I’ll admit that my wife does wear the sling and that I do not, but…really, you question the masculinity of a guy who wears the sling? This is a sad definition of masculinity.

        2. Beta Male. He’s so fucked.

          1. He’s so fucked.

            Probably not. Sounds like he’s served his purpose in that regard, and is now kept around strictly as a kind of servant/nanny.

          2. Yes, let’s speculate and say rude things about a situation we know nothing about. That’s always fun.

            Maybe the woman has a bad back. Or he’s just nice and wants to give her a break.

        3. The current object of my affections is a fairly dainty thing. Should we ever wind up having a kid I could see me usually being the carrier, seeing as how I’m fairly used to lugging 100+ pounds.

          However the baby will be in a ruck sack or maybe D-ringed to a FLC.

        4. WTF is up with that?

          I would carry the baby given the choice. Women get all the access to all the love of child raising. If a man wants any part of it he has to demand it.

          1. My wife is due in a little over a month and I plan on carrying my son as much as I can when he needs to be carried. And I might even use one of those slingy things since I like my hands to be free.

        5. the sling just seems “too feminine” for my tastes. With my son, I just built up my arm strength by constant carrying.

          1. Just grow a beard or something to make up for it. Or get a t-shirt that says “mustache rides, 5c” (why isn’t the cent symbol on my keyboard?).

            Do they still have the backpack things, or are those bad now? My dad carried me in one of those quite a bit.

          2. Some are, but some just look like you have a 12lb first time skydiver.

        6. Seem like a good idea to me. The man is probably bigger and stronger and the woman already carried the thing around for 9 months. You can maintain your masculinity without being an asshole, you know.

          1. BETA MALE!!!!111!!

            1. As far as I can tell “alpha male” means asshole, so I’m OK with that.

              1. Oh I agree, whenever someone refers to themselves as an alpha male it’s a pretty good indication they never developed much past high school and/or are seriously insecure.

        7. When I carry my nephews, I always use the backpack. My sister has the front sling thing, but I tried it once and it was just uncomfortable.

    4. This is a spoof, right?

    5. Total. Bullshit. I live in the ghetto. A 6-minute bus ride will take me to Cub foods, which has everything from kim chee to fresh tomatillos to pecorino Romano.

    6. With a name like “Nando” I’d assume that you’d be familiar with the price of rice and beans.

  11. I also like how they don’t differenciate between people who or 20-30 pounds over weight and people who are 200-300 pounds over weight. 20-30 pounds is nothing. You may not look good in a speedo or bikini but your sure as hell not suffering quality of life and health issues. If your carrying around 400 pounds you need some freakin’ help although the government is last people you want “helping” you. Of course that is self-correcting because at that weight you heart’s going to eventually stop anyways, than you’ll lose weight pretty fast.

    1. That whole index is bullshit anyway. If I was actually as light as the chart says I should be for my height, I’d look like a fucking skeleton.

      1. Not exactly. At the top end of the “correct” BMI range, I would be fine. No skeletor look at all.

        But its as low as I would want my weight to be.

        1. It depends on your frame and muscle as well. I was stud in High School. Lean and muscular. According to my BMI I would have been at least 10-15 pounds overweight which is ridiculas. True, if I was that cut I’d have looked better than Adonis but seriously, I ran 5 miles every other day and lifted weight for an hour to 90 minutes the other days. Also, played sports constantly. If anything less than that is fat, that’s freakin’ insane. How does anyone not in High School have time to do all that.

          1. Also, I did at one point in my life have a BMI of around 22 which is middle “normal”. We’ll call those my qualuudes days. As Gojira said, I looked like a freakin’ skeleton. It was clearly not a healthy weight for me at all.

            1. I was UNDER the BMI normal range when I was in college. Seeing pictures now, I look like I escaped from a concentration camp.

              I agree that the low to mid BMI normal range is skeletony. The normal range needs to be shifted 5 pts, IMO.

              Or, you know, use something that works, instead of BMI.

    2. Actually, slighter overweight people live longer than “correct” weight people or obese people.

      Which makes me think the definitions are wrong.

      1. And I imagine it is nice to have a bit of a buffer. I’ve been on the line for underweight for my whole life. Nothing I can do will make me the least bit fat.
        It’s nice in some ways, but if I got sick for any extended period of time, or couldn’t keep my calorie intake high enough for whatever reason, I’d be screwed.

      2. The study showing that was rebutted by a subsequent study showing that “ideal BMI” people outlasted both high and low BMI folks.

        Everyone agrees that all these studies are confounded by smokers, drug users, and low-weight long term sick people (e.g., cancer, AIDS).

        What they disagree on is which study has done a better job of controlling the confounding.

  12. “From 1985 to 2000, the prices of fresh fruits and vegetables rose 40 percent while prices of fats and soft drinks decreased by about 15 and 25 percent, respectively”

    I do not believe this. And what the fuck are “fats and soft drinks”? Olive oil and diet Coke?

    1. If measured from a can of coke to a bottle of Jones Soda, yeah.

  13. “Hmm. “On a per-calorie basis”?”
    This study brought to you by the same liars who cherry-picked the data until they found a filter showing pub-sec workers ‘paid less than’ priv-sec workers.

  14. Having been a poor person who knows the price of everything, I can assue you that such consumers certainly do NOT look at price per calorie. What they look at is total daily cost.

    And from observation and experience, it is simply false that poor people are obese because they can’t get healthy food. Personally, I was always able to eat a very cheap, healthy diet mostly consisting of home-cooked meals made with fresh vegetables. What is expensive to eat is meats and cheeses and processed food, which are often the things that poor obese people eat a lot of.

    The fact is that most poor people have more than enough money to pay for their food. In fact they have excess. That’s why they spend it on pizza and sodas. They aren’t worried about getting enough food. Thats is simply NOT THE ISSUE

    1. Yup. Fresh veg, beans, and pasta are pretty damn cheap. Hell, you can even go and buy frozen veggies that keep longer and not pay more. But meat’s expensive, and processed shit is expensive.

      Take Hamburger Helper. 5.8 ounce box, $2.29. 5 pounds of penne pasta, $11. Gee, which is a better deal?

      1. “I don’t know why they call it Hamburger Helper. It does fine all by itself.”

  15. You can go to any grocery store and buy a large sized bag of jasmin rice and 2 or 3 cans of black beans for $5-$7.50 max. Paired together you have a meal that is low in fat, low in sugar, high in protein, healty dose of carbs and high in other vitamins and minerals. It takes literally 15 minutes to make a large batch.

    You can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you so choose. Not to mention it can be paired with almost any fruits and vegetables. Eating healthy on a tight budget does not have to be rocket science.

    1. ^^^ THIS

      You can make a simple meal this in less time than it would take you to go to the fast food place during peak times. If you learn how to use spices it is tasty too.

      It does take effort though – and the vision to know you can actually do this.

      1. Very little effort. Cooking does not require gathering firewood or lugging water from the river.

        cook rice, potatoes, beans, meats, in bulk for the week, refrigerate/freeze. Hardboil a dozen eggs and refrigerate. Prepare other eggs/veggies fresh for each meal. Mix and match for your meals. Can prepare a meal in 5 minutes with a micro or saucepan.

        So fucking easy.

        And all you fat people apologists: STFU.

        1. It takes thinking too.

          All that planning in advance, who can handle it?

  16. Theory on why poor people are fat.

    First off they really are not poor. Just cuz they are in the lower economic tier in America does not make them poor. By any historical measure poor americans are astronomically rich.

    Second food is easy to get so one would think those with less self control would be more likely to over eat…one would also expect those with less self control would be more likely to make bad life choices when it comes to their money education and employment.

    People who have good self discipline are more healthy wealthy and wise then people with bad self discipline.

    Perhaps Mrs Obama should be preaching self discipline rather then demanding arugula lettuce in school lunches.

    Also physical disabilities often put poeple in the lower tier of the economic scale as well as make it harder to keep off the pounds adding to the weight differences.

    1. Excellent points. Liberals see the correlation between poor and fat and assume that poor causes fat. They don’t stop to think that there might be a common factor or factors that cause both poor and fat.

      1. I think the left put up blinders to prevent themselves from seeing that maybe people with money might actually deserve the money they have….and my even, horror beyond horror, be better managers of the resources they own.

  17. There are barriers for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor.

    Oh, bullshit. Go to CursedCo and buy a big bag of brown rice and a pack of Ramen, a rice cooker, some frozen vegetables, and a bag of pinto beans and you’ll have meals for about a month for almost nothing and be healthier to boot.

    People don’t eschew a cheap, healthy diet because they can’t. They avoid that because they don’t want to — which is fine. Being happy is what matters.

  18. Calories are meaningless, and lard is delicious.

    Tip: if possible, get lard from hippie farmers or Amish. Pigs that aren’t raised on a diet of corn (I assume that’s what they feed them on the big pig farms) produce a much tastier and softer fat.

    1. The only thing better than lard is the blood of the innocent.

      1. A good sommelier can point you in the right direction when paring the too.

    2. Yeah most commercial lard is rendered fat that has been deodorized and hydrogenated. The good stuff is the fat which surrounds pigs’ organs.

    3. Hippie farmers, you say? What part of weed does lard come from? Maybe Hippie farmers grow different things outside of Colorado?

      1. You need to find real hippies, the ones that went back to the land and stayed there, not hipster neophytes.

  19. 2002, in the NY Times, Gary Taubes had the definitive word on lard:

    Foods considered more or less deadly under the low-fat dogma turn out to be comparatively benign if you actually look at their fat content. More than two-thirds of the fat in a porterhouse steak, for instance, will definitively improve your cholesterol profile (at least in comparison with the baked potato next to it); it’s true that the remainder will raise your L.D.L., the bad stuff, but it will also boost your H.D.L. The same is true for lard. If you work out the numbers, you come to the surreal conclusion that you can eat lard straight from the can and conceivably reduce your risk of heart disease.

  20. and from Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories:

    “From the end of World War II, when the USDA statistics become more reliable, to the late 1960s, while coronary heart-disease mortality rates supposedly soared, per-capita consumption of whole milk dropped steadily, and the use of cream was cut by half. We ate dramatically less lard (13 pounds per person per year, compared with 7 pounds) and less butter (8.5 pounds versus 4) and more margarine (4.5 pounds versus 9 pounds), vegetable shortening (9.5 pounds versus 17 pounds), and salad oils and cooking oils (7 pounds versus 18 pounds). As a result, during the worst decades of the heart-disease “epidemic,” vegetable-fat consumption per capita in America doubled (from 28 pounds in the years 1947-49 to 55 pounds in 1976), while the average consumption of all animal fat (including the fat in meat, eggs, and dairy products) dropped from 84 pounds to 71. And so the increase in total fat consumption, to which Ancel Keys and others attributed the “epidemic” of heart disease, paralleled not only increased consumption of vegetables and citrus fruit, but of vegetable fats, which were considered heart-healthy, and a decreased consumption of animal fats.

  21. Let’s face it people: vegetables suck.

    When I lived in Dundalk, the closest grocery was a Mars, and their produce section was pretty lame. They had stuff, sure, but it was almost always old, dry, occaisionally on-the-verge of rot.

    Why? Because the majority of the shoppers there were fatfucks who wanted no part that nasty vegetable crap. So why should the store bother stocking decent veggies if no-one is buying them. And why would any one buy veggies in that state. It’s a vicious circle.

    Now, how to prove to these people that some oven roasted broccoli or brusselsprouts can be awesomely delicious….I don’t know.

    I say don’t bother and let them all die off.

    1. That is really it. It’s not that poor people can’t get fresh vegetables. It’s that they choose not to buy them, the produce section has low turnover, and so it tends to be small and has a lot more old/wilting produce.

      1. As a side note, try the hispanic grocery store in your ateas 10 to 1 I bet it’s got fresher produce than the middle-class white supermarket. Hispanic immigrants cook their own food.

  22. Actually, everyone (wisely and safely) ignores the government’s dietary advice.

    The poor are generally in poorer health than the wealthy for the same primary reason they are less well off financially: the poor have a shorter time horizon and less concern for, or appreciation of, the long term impact of their present actions.

    (adjusts monocle)

  23. I also don’t get the “fresh fruits and vegetables” emphasis. You can eat quite healthy and cheap without much that is fresh. Frozen vegetables, canned or dried beans, dried rice and other grains, and pasta are all quite cheap and quite healthy, but not “fresh.”

    1. Speaking of frozen…Frozen chopped spinach is the bomb.

      Put it in soups, spag sauce, etc. Popeye knew of what he spoke.

  24. This article misses the point as much as the Times did. The point is that you cannot trust government dietary guidelines. If you did, you’d be just as obese as if you ate at McDonald’s all the time. The food pyramid of the 1980’s looked the way it did not because of all the research the government paid for, but because the agri-lobby didn’t like the scientifically derived recommendations that put protein and fat at the base of the pyramid and grains and starches at the top. Carbs make you fat, eating fat does not (there is no metabolic process in the human body that converts dietary fat into body fat). Natural fats (including non-hydrogenated lard) are essential for good health.

  25. Hmmmm, lard. Can’t make frijoles without lard.

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