Fast Food Not to Blame for Obese Poor People

New report finds its the middle classes that are bloating up on McJunk.

'I'm only eating here until I start making $70,000 a year. Then I move across the street to Red Lobster.' (Photo: Fred Prouser/Reuters)

Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

New findings from a U.C. Davis study on fast-food consumption may cause middle-class snobs across the country to drop their McRib sandwiches in shock: America's underclass is being deprived of a presumed inalienable right of poverty, that is, the guarantee of being free to achieve a state of obesity through a forced diet of fast food.

The research confounds the double presumption that poor people trend to obesity on a regimen of fatty, processed, mass-produced foodstuffs churned out by franchised outlets.

The study's co-authors, Paul Leigh and DaeHwan Kim, scrutinized the dining habits of nearly 5,000 Americans and, contrary to expectations, found that pigging out at "restaurants" of the McDonalds and Burger King ilk becomes more frequent as diners increase their earning power from low- to middle-class levels. Consumption of Value Meals and Happy Meals drops off in households with a combined income of $70,000 and up.
The U.C. Davis research confounds the common double presumption that poor people trend to obesity on a regimen of fatty, processed, mass-produced foodstuffs churned out by franchised outlets.
"This may be crass to say," said study co-author Paul Leigh to the International Business Times, "but poor people don't have a lot of money to spend."


Leigh said that people with lower incomes more easily qualify for food stamps, which are not redeemable at, say, a fast-food restaurant. They are redeemable, however, at grocery stores.
It should also be noted that despite more conventional wisdom, fast food isn't exactly cheap. A fairly average order for a family of four costs $28. Compare that to a roasted chicken, vegetables, salad and milk for a family of four—it goes for about half.
"It suggests that a higher ratio of the budget of the poor go to grocery stores," Leigh said.

In other, spurious news, the Fast Food Trade Association announced a study to link the typical poor family of four's obesity to that "roasted chicken, vegetables, salad and milk" diet.

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