Why do we have obesity with no food in Black and Brown communities?

Imagine having food scarcity but being obese.

Many young children in America are suffering from obesity and are living in neighborhood food deserts. Food deserts are described as “not having a supermarket or super center within a mile of their home” (Ghosh-Dastidar, Bonnie, et al)  in urban areas, making it hard to have access to affordable healthy food. This lack of access causes food insecurity with is when a household has “limited access to adequate food and nutrition  due to cost, proximity, and resources.”(3) Low income families are more at risk for both food insecurity and obesity. There are many fast food restaurants, corner stores filled with processed, low nutritional foods, but not much access to fresh fruit, vegetables, or quality meats. This lack of adequate nutrition is affecting children in urban areas and “approximately 25 percent of them are Black and Latino families.” (3) These insecurities in the Black and Brown communities are ridden with high rates of obesity and poor health. Bad health affects the community as a whole. Poor nutrition is known to affect behavior, and your ability to concentrate.

In short, children going to school with poor nutrition aren’t able to concentrate in school which affects their ability to learn and move past their economical struggles. These consequences keep the wheel of poverty going for generations.

It is interesting that because certain foods are marketed to these communities it is not guaranteed that even with fresh produce the people in these neighborhoods would choose those healthier options.

So what is to be done about this epidemic of childhood obesity subsequent of low incomes?

There are some interesting solutions. In Baltimore, they have an online grocery store, “There are no delivery fees, and residents can pay for their orders with Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, formerly known as food stamps.” (Loosemore) This project is a brilliant approach using modern technology to get healthier options to families in these neighborhoods who don’t have the option of a car. What about those with no internet access? Nowadays, it is very  rare to find someone with no wifi, but it exists, so what about residents who can’t use these resources? In 2014, in Oklahoma City the ReFresh Project opened abandoned grocery stores. This project is in partnership with Whole Foods, and it includes programs that “teach people how to cook healthily, grow produce and work in a professional kitchen.” (Loosemore) This initiative helps people not only buy healthier options but learn delicious recipes that encourage them to keep buying and feeding their families. This helps families in those neighborhoods that have closed down grocery stores near by be able to access fresh foods without the use of internet and having to pay for transportation. These solutions are a tremendous help to Black and Brown communities to be able to fight obesity and poor health without completely obliterating their bank accounts.

It is important to feed children, you would think this statement was completely obvious but Black and brown communities across the nation in our urban areas having trouble getting adequate nutrition says otherwise. Childhood obesity is a consequence of this neglect of low income neighborhoods and must be paid attention to. There are many efforts around the country being made and it is important that these programs grow and keep feeding them.

Lets give our children health full lives so that they can change this world for good.

What are your thoughts on this?

Works cited

1. Ghosh-Dastidar, Bonnie, et al. “Distance to Store, Food Prices, and Obesity in Urban Food Deserts.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4205193/.

2. Loosemore, Bailey. “How Can Cities End Food Deserts? Here Are 4 Solutions That Worked.” Journal, Louisville Courier Journal, 15 Jan. 2019, www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2019/01/10/innovative-solutions-ending-food-deserts/2512232002/.

3. “Food Insecure Children.” The State of Obesity, www.stateofobesity.org/food-insecurity/.