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Old 02-24-2006, 10:47 PM   #1
Motion Macivor
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I just read a story in the globe and mail today and one thing that caught my eye is that poor people tend to be disporportionally fat because cheaper foods (chips and twinkys) tend to be more fattening and less nutritious. Access to healthclubs and exercise equipment is also an issue along with other class and social issues...
So the question is should there be incentives, tax breaks (for the wealthy), or subsidies (for the poor) To promote healthier lifestyles, and reduce the long term strain on the health care system?

Discuss
National,Front,specialScienceandHealth/home,http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl et/story/RTGAM.20060222.wpicard0223/BNStory/specialComment,National,Front,specia lScienceandHealth/home
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Old 02-25-2006, 05:21 AM   #2
Matt Gagliardi
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No and no.

*Allow me to expand, so I'm not accused of offering nothing. I keep my budget/spending tracked in MS Money. Since I've dropped my former crappy eating habits and adopted the Zone...my spending on food had gone down. Yes, down. As for a health club...many cities have community centers which are essentially free or very reduced in price for local citizens (where I live a resident pays $20 per month), gyms run specials all the time (right up the street from me there's a Gold's running an $18/month for 1 year special). There are also parks (or streets or sidewalks) to run on/in, playgrounds that you can use for pullups and dips, heavy objects lying around your house that you can lift.

In short...all it takes to stay in shape is some imagination, a bit of intelligence and some determination. IMO money really isn't a factor in fitness...it might make it a little easier, but it doesn't preclude it.

I think there's an initial misconception that eating healthy is more/prohibitively expensive. But when you learn portion control and how to re-heat...the initial cost of an item may be more, but you have to realize that it's going to be effectively distributed over the 3-4 meals you're going to get out of what you're buying. A super-sized meal #4 from McDonald's costs $5.50, as does a package of 4 chicken breasts. But those 4 chicken breasts will be part of 2 dinners and 2 lunches...the McDonald's will end up being just 1 meal.

(Message edited by h2o_goalie on February 25, 2006)
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Old 02-25-2006, 07:35 AM   #3
Mark Gebhard
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I don't think there should be tax incentives or whatever, but one thing the US government should do is stop providing subsidies to growers of corn, wheat, soybeans, and rice. This has been artificially lowering the price on these crops for years and has been part of the reason for the explosion of cheap junk food such as sodas and a million other things made from high fructose corn syrup. Of course the government will never stop this because agriculture is an incredibly powerful lobby.

Matt,
You really believe that eating healthy is no more expensive than not? The cost per calorie on things like rice, beans, bread, and heck, any junk food, is very low. Fresh produce per calorie is expensive. Meat in general, but especially wild salmon, grass-fed beef, etc. is extraordinarily expensive. The more I adjust my diet to Paleo, the more my grocery bill goes up.
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Old 02-25-2006, 08:52 AM   #4
Matt Gagliardi
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I'll agree (to some extent) the cost of "junk" food on a per-calorie basis is lower. However, people who eat primarily "junk" food take in a lot more of those calories (in my experience)...so the cost per calorie difference becomes moot. As I wrote earlier, I track all my spending via MS Money. I know exactly what I spend on food, both now and before I went Zone. My spending is not significantly different now (it's down very slightly) than it was before. This isn't ancedotal...I looked it up.

Also, when you start to add the cost of healthcare due to poor diet...it really starts to get expensive to eat poorly.

(Message edited by h2o_goalie on February 25, 2006)
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Old 02-25-2006, 08:56 AM   #5
Steve Shafley
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Aw Matt. Let's put this behind us. Twink/Powerbear things never work out. Good post!
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Old 02-25-2006, 09:00 AM   #6
Craig Van De Walker
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Rant...
When I was very poor in my younger years I would buy big bags of potatoes, eggs, cheap tuna, cheap cheeze and milk sometimes. I lived off of that diet for a long time. I did not get fat but I was going to school full time and working full time nights, throwing freight (and lifting wts when I had the time). Poor is not an excuse for fat. Stupid/ignorant and or lazy is the real reason.

I think Mike's point is that it was cheaper for him to eat well than to eat crappy. If you have fat aquantances look at what they eat. I'll bet it does not cost less than eating healthy.

I do not think (IMO) that most poor Americans buy bulk rice and beans and eat them. I have had the educational experience of eating meals over the years with many fat coworkers (granted they were not poor). They made crappy food choices and ate too much. Really poor people are thin they do not have enough money to overeat.

I will concede the point that there is some crappy food that is really cheap, so if you were really trying you could get enough daily calories on say 50 cents a day (Ramen noodles 12 for $1). Big bulk bags of rice and beans would be close in price and much better for you. The obese people in the electric carts often have lots of high cal processed foods
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Old 02-25-2006, 09:05 AM   #7
Jason Steele
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I have to agree with Matt, although to expand, it is more of a psychological barrier as opposed to a monetary barrier. For example, there have been many great athletes that come from poor areas (look at the athletes from the coal camps of WV and the steel camps of PA) who were dirt poor but had a desire to be better. I've seen the same thing in the military. Not to mention the fat upper middle class people I have seen. Anyhow...
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Old 02-25-2006, 09:06 AM   #8
Mike Rosenberg
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Ounce for ounce things like meat, fish and fresh produce are more expensive than crap food. But Matt, I would throw this into the mix as a contributing factor -- people who deliberately eat healthier and go out of their way to monitor their food intake exercise better portion control. Better portion control would be, IMHO, a key contributing factor to a lower food bill overall even though the food may cost more on a unit basis.

I do differentiate a bit between your comment regarding caloric intake and portion control b/c junk food as we all know tends to be densly pack with empty calories and the high carb life keeps you hungry. If you held the daily caloric intake constant and ate healthier choices, I would bet your food bill would go up.

The Red Cross likes to tout that people who give blood live on average longer than those who don't. They leave out the critical datum that people who give blood tend to lead overall more healthier life styles. It is almost a defacto true statement due to the screaning questioniare they give you before you leave a pint.

I think we are all on or about the same page, there are just more factors to consider beyond cost per ounce.
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Old 02-25-2006, 09:14 AM   #9
Mark Gebhard
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"Also, when you start to add the cost of healthcare due to poor diet...it really starts to get expensive to eat poorly."

This is true, but unfortunately the cost (assuming health insurance) is passed on to everyone else, including people who actually care about their health. Sure, everyone wants to be healthy, but not many put any effort into it. I don't want to get too political, but this is where Bush's idea of health savings accounts is not bad. I certainly think everyone should carry insurance, but there needs to be some monetary incentive to staying healthy, since apparently health, by itself, is not enough.
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Old 02-25-2006, 09:20 AM   #10
Chris Jordan
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What an awesome topic.

I was wondering this as I was shopping the other day. Stop and look around the store. Look at the people around you. What % of them can do a pull-up? A push-up? What % of them get any sort of regular exercise at all? I would guess very few.

I don't think this is because of financial status. I don't believe a tax break will help someone put down the soda, get off the couch and get to work. I doubt if the average person would even know what to do with extra money if it were designated for "fitness". Get a gym membership? Buy a stair stepper for home?

I know that my fitness costs me little. In fact I could do quite well with a pair of shoes, a jump rope and access to a jungle gym. How do you convince the average Joe that fitness is attainable, affordable and worth the initial discomfort? How do you convince them that they don't have to look like those freak models in the fitness mag?

I also tend to agree with Matt. There are soon to be 6 Jordans in my house so Julie and I are are watching our budget pretty closely. I find that by eliminating soda and snacks, buying less milk and bread, eating out less and using up leftovers we do come out ahead. We also put out a big garden. We ate a lot of ramen to get us through college but as soon as we had some money coming in we bought a lot of junk food. Eliminating that from our budget has helped significantly.
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