Another Gap Widens Between Rich And Poor: Food Quality

As the rich get richer, they also eat better. A study has confirmed that the quality of diet improves the wealthier you are.

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Not everyone can afford this.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that on average diets improved between 2005 and 2010. But the diets of those of lower socioeconomic status declined.

The researchers analyzed eating habits of 29,124 Americans over the past ten years, focusing on diet quality as a whole. The study found that Americans are eating more fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes. But without taking into account socioeconomic status, the study showed that people are still not eating enough vegetables. They found that Americans continue to eat red and processed meat and salt intakes have increased.

“The good news is that the overall quality of the U.S. diet has been increasing in the past decade,” says Frank Hu, one of the study’s authors and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard.

The study found that the nutritional disparities between low-income and wealthy Americans shockingly doubled between 2000 and 2010.

Researchers blame the limited resources and higher cost of healthy food in low-income neighborhoods.

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Accessibility and affordability of healthy foods in low-income areas has been a major concern to public health experts. Hu says that even though the quality of American diets are improving, “overall improvement” cannot be achieved if the “disturbing” gap between the rich and poor continues to grow.

“With deterioration in diet quality over time,” Hu says, “this may actually even increase the disparities in terms of obesity and other diet-related conditions.”

The study says that legislation and taxation that would help close the gap would be the most effective way to reduce the risk of dietary-related illnesses.

One way to help close the dietary health gap between socioeconomic classes is to educate people about the role diet plays in disease prevention. But education is not enough to reduce the disparities. “Without changing the food environment and food system, education alone is not going to be very effective,” Hu says.

The study comes during a time when legislatures are suggesting limiting what foods can be bought with food stamps to promote healthier eating. “We urgently need to support multi-pronged initiatives to improve dietary quality for persons of lower socioeconomic status,” the researchers write.

Researchers found that Americans are consuming less trans fat and sugary beverages. Even if the rich can afford healthier food, Americans still scored under 50 out of 100 on the study’s Alternative Healthy Eating Index.

Source | TechTimes