category menu

The Hunger-Obesity Paradox in America

powered by Fotopedia

Hungry and obese Americans?

I remember the pictures of the skinny malnourished American families in those magazines and history books. The hungry families from the 1960’s that were struggling just to get their basic needs like food and shelter. The images that promoted American politicians to take action against hunger.

Hunger is still a major issue in America. Hungry families, hungry kids. What is different?

Americans are still hungry but aren’t skinny.

We need to change our thinking. There are too many obese Americans going to bed hungry. What a paradox.

Hunger-Obesity Paradox

What is the definition of  a Hunger-Obesity Paradox?

The  Hunger-Obesity Paradox is the high rates of obesity among poor and lower-income people who lack resources and access to healthy food.

In fact, scientists note that a poor and lower-income person can be obese yet at the same time be malnourished and hungry.  Intuitively, this shouldn’t be the case, meaning that we think of obesity as some issue of overeating. When we think of hunger, we think about African and Asian nations where underweight children and adults die of hunger every minute.

Why this hunger-obesity paradox?

Why? Scientists point that, in general, the lower-income population are overeating cheaper high fat  high sugar foods just for daily survival.  They “binge” on these foods because of

  • worries of limited resources (money) during other times of the month
  • lack of availability of high quality nutritious foods
  • lack of time, energy and education to find ways substitute healthy foods for high fat, high sugar items.

The situation is complex and solutions in a tight economy are limited.

Sugared beverages are part of the problem

Research has emerged recently from Princeton University that sugared drinks, especially those with high fructose corn syrup (the main sugar in most sodas/soft drinks in America) could be one of the main causes for these high rates of obesity. In poorer communities there is a high intake of these sugared high fructose corn syrup drinks.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

  • We can be obese and hungry
  • Drinking high sugared drinks with high fructose corn syrup is a risk for obesity
  • Too many Americans go to bed hungry every night
  • Too many Americans do not have access to healthy fresh fruits and vegetables
  • And too many Americans open up their refrigerators without enough food in them

What do you think?

And your thoughts. What are your ideas on how Americans, in one of the richest countries of the world, could escape this life of being hungry and obese? Please share your comments in the “leave a reply” section below.

, , , , , ,

9 Responses to The Hunger-Obesity Paradox in America

  1. Steve May 28, 2010 at 23:35 #

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Brighton. Mary Brighton said: RT @mbrighton66: Obesity-Hunger Paradox in America, Lessons for All Americans […]

  2. christina April 29, 2010 at 23:12 #

    There is a new law in which restaurants in America must list the fat content, calories and such on their menus. Will this help? Maybe a small percentage.
    Philadelphia is one of the fattest cities. I can see why. French fries and cheese steak is what they live on. yuck!

    • mbrighton April 29, 2010 at 23:34 #

      Hi Christina! Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know that Philadelphia is one of the fattest cities…I don’t know if putting on the calories and fat content on menus in restaurants will do much other than make us feel guilty! Personally, I feel that eating out at a restaurant is a treat…and that taste (even if it is high fat/high calories) should come before anything. However, it is always good to be informed..and if it makes choosing between two menus-one less fat/calorie content than the other…well, maybe that could be helpful!
      Looks like the restaurants over there will need lots of dietitians to figure out all the fat/calories on the dishes!
      Thanks for my question for you..would you change your menu item if you saw that one dish had less calories and/or fat than the other? Just wondering…

  3. Justin Wilson April 28, 2010 at 22:17 #

    You’re right. Obesity is a complex issue. That’s why it doesn’t help to keep muddying the water about what causes obesity. I think everyone wants a villain and a quick fix. Unfortunately, it seems that high fructose corn syrup is quickly becoming the villain, and replacing it with other sweeteners that have just as many calories is the hilariously quick fix. Of course, that only sets a dieter up for failure, don’t you think?

    • mbrighton April 29, 2010 at 00:13 #

      Yes, I think that replacing high fructose corn syrup with other sweeteners is just a quick fix. But, something interesting, in Europe they have qoutas on how the quantity of high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks. The qoutas are much less than in USA…and the rate of obesity is also less than USA. What researchers at Princeton have found, using animal models (rats) is that the animals gain more weight and become obese intaking soda with high fructose corn syrup in comparison with the animals drinking water with table sugar in it and the same amount of calories. Obesity is a complex issue…for me the best advice to help combat obesity is to switch to water!


  1. Say Yes To Water For Lean Kids Instead of Sugared Drinks | brightonyourhealth - January 18, 2011

    […] in how to teach your kids to LIVE HEALTH”Y” and it is a good tie in to my previous post  about sugared drinks and obesity.  Don’t we all strive to have lean, healthy kids? Do […]

  2. Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Cause Obesity? | brightonyourhealth - May 6, 2010

    […] Comments cécile on French Kids DO Snack, The Sacred French “Gouter”mbrighton on Obesity-Hunger Paradox in America, Lessons for All Americanschristina on Obesity-Hunger Paradox in America, Lessons for All Americansmbrighton on French Kids DO […]

  3. Tweets that mention Obesity-Hunger Paradox in America, Lessons For All Americans | brightonyourhealth -- - April 29, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Brighton. Mary Brighton said: RT @mbrighton66: Obesity-Hunger Paradox in America, Lessons for All Americans […]

  4. Mary Brighton - April 29, 2010

    RT @mbrighton66: Obesity-Hunger Paradox in America, Lessons for All Americans

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

Subscribe without commenting

free tracking