Monday, 2 September 2013

CI debate: Does being poor prevent people from eating healthily ?

Television chef Jamie Oliver - whose books and television programmes have been shown all over the world  - caused big headlines in the UK when he questioned whether there was a link between poverty and healthy eating.

He claims to have seen families eating badly even though they own expensive televisions. Critics attacked Oliver, insisting that he had simplified a complex problem.

We asked the consumer movement and our Facebook friends for their thoughts.

No - you can still eat healthily on a low budget. A lot of fresh, filling and healthy basics are cheap - fruit and veg in season, potatoes, pasta etc. And you can make a little meat go a long way. Processed food is pretty expensive and you don't know what's in it!
Julie Hunter

If people are willing to buy store brands instead of famous brands of food, it can be affordable to prepare healthy meals. But the mentality of poor English people is another matter altogether for another day. Fast foods are favourite of lazy poor people over here! Jamie Oliver is doing a programme to prove that on Channel 4. Most poor people in my old neighbourhood, they live off the little plot of land they have. Growing spinach, pumpkin, using pumpkin leaves for morogo, potatoes, you name it. It is a multi dimensional subject.
Mantinini Moroka

Access and not only affordability also affect the ability of those living in poverty to choose healthy diets. For example, it is quite common for low income communities to have few if any healthy food grocery stores in their neighbourhoods thus limiting people's access to securing healthy foods. Furthermore the intersection of race and class in certain countries, makes this an even more complex topic.
Onica Nonhlanhla Makwakwa, CI Head of Africa

I think that there is a connection, not the least when it comes to making sustainable choices and other links to health that might be a bit less apparent. To buy food where there's not been and compromise with quality such as animal health (antibiotics), unsafe pesticides or slaughter products with unclear origin, simply costs more in the store, so of course there's a link there...
Emma Wieslander

In our context poverty and ignorance can be so strongly linked and the poor have increased chances of receiving cheap unhealthy foods such as hydrogenated fats, imported food snacks with high quantities of salt, additives and sugars. Distracted advertising confounds choices among the poor and this may stop health eating habits.
Youth Education Network

Junk food may be cheaper now, but who will pay the doctor's bills in 10 or 20 years from now? Once you start on hypertension or diabetes medicines, you normally can't stop. Finally, try buying directly from small farmers or local fresh markets (if you can). Food is generally better in quality and lower in price as the middlemen (supermarkets) are left out of the chain.

Hubert Linders

In Greece poverty has watered down all consumers' rights. According to a survey we conducted in May, 40.3% of consumers use price as the basic criteria for choosing the goods they purchase. 70% of consumers whose income is below 600 euro have decreased the purchase of food. Poverty undermines the right to consumption the right of satisfaction of basic needs. So all the other consumer rights that are based on this one are also undermined. Recently a young couple with two kids 4 and 5 years old and who had both lost their jobs asked for our help so that the bank would not confiscate their home. The mother told us that she had fed her two children for one week with 2 euro. She has bought 2 kilos of flour and made bread and one kilo of rice and made soup. If this is not poor nutrition for these two kids I do not know what else is poor nutrition.
Evangelia Kekeleki,  KEPKA Consumers Protection Center Greece

The US supermarket price of a nice white fish; for example, a red snapper is ($7) + romaine lettuce & tomato salad ($3) compared to a fish fillet + french fries menu meal at a fast food restaurant for ($5). It costs more to eat better. Then, factor in that fast food restaurants serve Coke and Pepsi products which are empty calories, which cause weight gain among other health consequences. Unfortunately, when govt. tries to do anything about unhealthy choices, as recently Mayor Bloomberg did in NY, they are ridiculed and told it is not their place. Meanwhile, some two-thirds of American kids are obese. Denial ain't just a river in Africa.

Global Alliance for Legal Aid

Poverty affects your judgement of opportunity cost; eating healthily for some is related to how they value themselves. Unfortunately, many consumers weigh their own value on the scale of the purchasing power.

Dieunedort Wandji

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