First Lady Michelle Obama has become one of the most recognized faces in the battle against childhood obesity in recent years. Whether motivating the youth to exercise by busting out the dougie or displaying her green thumb in the White House Garden, the first lady has remained vocal not only about the direct role that exercising and eating play in one’s health, but also the importance of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly in low-income communities. However, a recent Slate article challenges the first lady’s healthful food initiative and questions the legitimacy of the popular “food desert” notion, bringing us to question the real connection between poor health in impoverished neighborhoods.
In “Food Deserts Aren’t the Problem,” health journalist Heather Tirado Gilligan addresses the many fresh food initiatives, such as Obama’s 2010 Healthy Food Initiative, that have been launched across the country since the early 2000’s. Focusing on the idea of food deserts—a geographic area sorely lacking in healthful and affordable foods—these initiatives aim to improve the diets and eating habits of poor people by providing better options.
Gilligan considers this mission a “lovely idea,” but argues that despite preliminary reports suggesting possible links between access to a grocery store and poor diets, recent studies show reveal little to no connections between food environments and diets. And she’s not alone.
“Study after study has shown that the fresh-food push does nothing to improve the health of poor people, who continue to live markedly shorter and sicker lives than better-off Americans,” she reports. “[Fresh food campaigns] offer a market-based opportunity for individuals to make better choices about health, leaving the impression that people living in poverty get sick for reasons that are within their control.”
According to Gilligan, financial binds that these individuals face, like paying the water bill, making rent and affording children’s school clothing, might be more to blame for the alarming health disparities existing in impoverished, predominantly Black and Hispanic communities.
“Stress reactions, like floods of adrenaline and cortisol and increased blood pressure, are helpful as short-term reactions to dangerous or challenging situations. But if stress reactions are constant, they create physiological conditions that damage the body,î Gilligan writes, linking stress to poverty-associated illness like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Black adults are at least 50 percent more likely to die of heart disease or stroke prematurely than their non-Hispanic white counter parts, according to the CDC,. Additionally, the prevalence of adult diabetes is higher among Hispanics and Blacks, especially those within lower household incomes, than among Asians and whites.
As for children of color, the national infant mortality rate for Blacks is more than double the rate for whites. Yet, the infants who avoid that startling statistic are disproportionately affected by childhood obesity compared to white children.
So, if better access to fresh fruits and vegetables is not the answer, then what is? Gillian suggests that as Americans, we shift the focus from the produce aisle to poverty itself.
“[We] we build supermarkets, finance green grocer carts, and teach former inmates about fennel, feeling like we’re promoting a progressive effort to improve the plight of the disadvantaged,î she writes. ìMeanwhile, poor people are living shorter, sicker lives, with no helpful new policy in sight.î
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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