People lay blame all kinds of places for childhood obesity – parents, schools, television – but one very simple thing that tends to be overlooked is the corner store.
A study that followed kids in Philadelphia between January and June 2008 found that with just $1.07, they purchased an average 356 calories’ worth of food each day. And those were generally empty calories – chips, candy and sugary drinks.
According to the study, conducted by researchers at Temple University, just over a dollar could buy a child an 8-oz. sugary drink, a single serving bag of potato chips, a popsicle and several pieces of individually wrapped candy.
This addresses what I think is one of the bigger problems with obesity in kids and especially in low-income and minority groups – the stores that people have available to them sell junk, and that junk is cheap. I live in one of those cities that is essentially a “food desert” other than gas stations and party stores, and while things are improving it’s hard to find fresh, or even frozen, fruits and veggies.
The biggest component of getting kids to eat healthful food starts at home and school, of course – good eating habits modeled at home, and healthy lunches and snacks at school. But figuring out some way to make fruits and vegetables cheaper and empty sugary calories more expensive might be a good way to start getting everybody to eat better.