Food deserts might not be a major cause of obesity


#1

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#2

There was never an actual causative link there, just a good correlation... though to be fair to that bit of conventional wisdom, it was never whether or not you could get Kale at the local grocery store. In a food desert the 7/11 often IS what passes for a grocery store.

That being said, I do fundamentally agree. Making it harder to get decent food on top of all of the other executive stresses of being poor just make it that much harder to make the choices you need to make to get ahead.


#3

Okay, well then allow me to state the obvious (joke): I think it's apparent that all the fat is in the extra s, and desserts are the real problem.


#4

Please please please please stop having sex toy ads on the top right corner of your pages. Even an artistic purple vibrator is pretty blatant. I sent an email to your ads contact address, but I haven't had a response. I don't want my boss OR my kids asking about it.


#5

It's perfectly possible to eat desserts and lose weight.

The "secret" is to identify your maintenance calories and eat less than that every day. Want a slice of cheesecake? You might have to skip lunch but you can do it. In theory you could pull it off by eating nothing but McDonald's.

You'll probably end up in the hospital for other problems such as malnutrition because fast food and convenience store fare is pretty much devoid of vitamins, but at least you'll leave a skinny corpse!


#6

The main reason for the massive outbreak of obesity is modern "short stalk high yield wheat" which bears no relation to wheat as we knew it back in the 1950s. In actual fact it is so far removed from what wheat was back then that it is doubtful if it is legal to call it wheat.
The main vilan is Gliadin which is like an opiate and makes people want more.
I stopped eating wheat for three days and my digestive problems disappeared.
Day four was a revelation.
I subsequently lost a load of weight like sixty pounds but it cost me as I had to redo my wardrobe twice.
I gave up wheat because going to the toilet was very uncomfortable and so did one of my neighbours.
Like me he had a wonderful morning on day four but commented that, for him, it was like walking out of a fog as he felt alert and full of energy.
Here's a good place to start:- http://www.wheatbellyblog.com


#7

Food Dessert perhaps?

Although I am having fun picturing a food desert.


#8

A food desert is an area of a town or city where there are no healthy foods being sold and the population have virtually no option but to eat crap industrial substitutes.
Not funny at all!


#9

And so I learn something. My bad.


#10

The main reason for the massive outbreak of obesity is modern "short stalk high yield wheat" which bears no relation to wheat as we knew it back in the 1950s. In actual fact it is so far removed from what wheat was back then that it is doubtful if it is legal to call it wheat.

And this is why I have a hard time trusting Gary Taubes to produce unbiased research on obesity. The above statement actually hasn't been proven. Not by a long shot. But it is Gary Taubes business to claim that it has been.


#12

I stand corrected: there is no obvious joke.
And I accept that any attempt to find humor in a food desert is a tasteless endeavor.


#13

Probably too much taste in those food deserts, actually!

The candy aisle? Sensory overload. Pretty sure that's why it takes kids 20 minutes to pick something out, its hard when you want one of everything.


#14

This doesn't surprise me in the least.

Cooking meals from scratch requires skills many people are never taught, and it takes more effort than popping processed crap into a microwave.

Economic incentives might work. I suppose you could limit SNAP purchases to exclude crap food, but the Crap Food lobby would object.

Many food banks and adult education programs offer cooking classes, but do you really expect them to get enough attendance to make a difference?

Serve lovingly prepared, healthy meals that include vegetables in schools, so kids get used to them? Costs a lot of money, which would be fine except for the fact that the kids will throw the stuff out and demand the crap they are used to eating at home.

The only way out of this is to breed a race of diabolically smart coyotes, train them to crave the taste of the flesh of human youngsters, and turn them loose in the streets as schools let out. Kids who want to survive won't need to run faster than the coyotes, only faster than one other kid.


#15

My research is totally biased, subjective and true.
It works for me & Colin (Bum discomfort.), Melanie & her stepfather (Aching joints ) and several other friends.
The concept that no I'm not going to give up toast, french baguettes, pizzas, pasta, burger buns, couscous, cakes, sauces, blonde beer, so called potato chips, crackers etc. because I don't have scientific proof that it will help me live a better life is just pants.
Just do it, three days with no wheat and then prove me wrong.
When you start trying to avoid wheat you begin to realise just how much of your daily diet is actually wheat.
Any society that relies so much on one source of food is doomed to fail.


#16

Their reliance on rice is why the Indian and Chinese civilisations were so short-lived.


#17

If you believe what you just said then good luck to you and yours.


#18

I've gone 3 days, 1 week, 10 days without wheat. I felt the same, my digestion was the same. Bread and carbs typically do two things universally:

  1. They cause people to retain water and bloat
  2. They contain a lot of calories compared to other foods

(1) is why many people report a drastic change in how they feel. A lot of people simply don't drink enough water and don't eat enough fiber, and a diet filled with carbs is going to mean you typically eat fewer fibrous vegetables. (2) means that eating lots of carbs tends to make you fat in the long term.

You're welcome to eat what you want, but you know what helped me? Training for a marathon. I ran so much that I had to start eating junk food, and my digestive system was loving it! I was eating wheat like crazy during the training and my bowels, joints, and other parts of my body were happy as can be, because I was giving them what they needed -- calories, to make up for the massive amount of calories I was burning during my exercise routine.

I'm not a single data point, either; my wife is a vegetarian who eats fish, and lived many months eating no wheat. She then began adding wheat back into her diet when she began exercising more. She bloated a little bit, but her body quickly became used to it and she reported no other changes to her health/body.

You can continue to hate wheat and call it a boogie-man ingredient, but humans have been eating wheat for millenia. Your point regarding gluten is faddish, and there's been no change in milled wheat -- it's still basic chemistry, and when you get to that level of basic chemistry things don't change. My wife is also a biochemist.

Specific to the food desert thing, I would agree with others that it's not a cause but there is a correlation, especially when you consider poverty. A lot of places with poor food services have low-paying jobs and high-priced food. For example, if you drive through some of the smaller towns in upstate New York, there's plenty of towns where the "grocery store" is also the gas station, and a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread is a dollar or two more compared to the big grocery stores in a major city. What's more, the food options are poor, so the food is more expensive and it's easier to be bored, resulting in typically eating out more. When you consider that these places often have low-paying jobs, it becomes a catch-22 -- your food options suck and they cost more, so you end up spending more money which causes more financial stress.


#19

My family was poor growing up and I was also very poor when I was young and a young mother many years ago. 'Food deserts' were not a factor in our lives. Money was the biggest factor. My parents either didn't have time or energy to make breakfast because they worked long hours for low pay, so I grew up on cheap off-brand sugary cereals. As a kid, I thought it was great. I didn't know how unhealthy that was. Pasta, potatoes, white bread and ground beef were staples and the only vegetables we usually got were canned corn and green beans. Maybe fresh carrots. Sometimes we'd get canned fruit (in syrup, of course). Canned food doesn't go bad quickly and so doesn't get wasted; you can't afford waste when you are poor.

When I became a mother, fresh foods were available, I simply couldn't afford them. Every dollar mattered when I went to the grocery store; fruit and vegetables were luxuries to me.

Time was also an issue. I worked a lot and was too tired to learn to make anything other than simple meals, if I even had time to make meals (and there was a short time period when I often had to rely on the McDonalds dollar menu because it was all I could afford or had time for between working two jobs and having a kid as a single mother). I did what I could to keep things healthy, but the cheap staples tend to be simple carbohydrates. I wouldn't get sugary cereals, but the effort to make even a simple, good breakfast can be overwhelming when you are working two jobs and barely have time to think.

School lunches were also an uphill battle; they weren't healthy and, when I could, I made lunches. It was hard to compete with the stuff the schools served up, even though I tried to teach my kid about healthy eating. Plus, at my poorest moments, I couldn't help but take advantage of the free lunch programs.

I can definitely agree that stress would be a factor in terms of health when one is poor. I was constantly worried about keeping up with rent, food, how am I going to pay for daycare so I can go to work to pay for daycare, etc. Plus, going to the doctor was out except in the case of dire emergencies. No dentist ever. I went to the dentist once as a kid and not again until I finally got health insurance in my late 20's.

As for tackling obesity, well, unhealthy, fattening foods are easy, cheap, widely available and taste great.

It's not a matter of making fresh foods more available, but rather making them more affordable and more desirable. A real move to healthy school lunches. An educational campaign on portion control and caloric intake. Making fried and other unhealthy foods less desirable. Not allowing sugar cereals to be constantly advertised as 'part of a balanced breakfast' (another uphill battle I had as a parent). Healthier easy breakfast options widely known and available. Decreasing soda intake. These are a few places to start, I think.


#20

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#21

What are you talking about?

I'm overweight not because of some magic wheat issue, but because I eat a shit load of sugar/fat. If I cut out all the sweets I'd loose 10-20 pounds no problem, but by god they are tasty.