Steve Scher talks with Dr. Adam Drewnowski about the links between obesity and poverty. Simply put, people with more money can pay for better food. But people with an attitude researchers are calling 'nutritional resilience' manage to put together a good diet at low cost. So, how can those strategies for eating better on less money spread to the rest of the population?
Two-Thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. The NIH has found that "in contrast to international trends, people in America who live in the most poverty-dense counties are those most prone to obesity." That puts them at greater risk of diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Adam Drewnowski says that while food choices are based on taste, cost and convenience, there is a growing body of evidence that obesity in America is largely an economic issue. Policies that address access or behavior alone are inadequate.
Disparities in health follow disparities in income. For example, UW researchers observed higher obesity rates along the I-5 corridor compared with a leaner population living along the waterfront. Shoppers at Whole Foods are likely leaner than shoppers at Safeway. Both stores offer a variety of food choices. What is happening? Given the results, what are the tools citizens can use to create healthier eating patterns?
Adam Drewnowski is world renowned for his research into diet and social inequality, food taste and food preference, for studies on genetic food taste markers and the roles of sugar, salt and fat on food preferences and food cravings. His studies on taste, cost and convenience have spanned his almost 30 years in this discipline.
He spoke at the UW's Wellness and Weight Lecture Series April 14, 2015 in the talk, "Obesity and Poverty: Linking Food, Health and Incomes."