The Divide on Diets


Ashlyn Long, Staff

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The increasing pay gap that separates the wealthy from the poor is one we have observed for years. It appears that as generations have passed, the divide between the two is growing. The richest one percent is steadily acquiring wealth while the families living at poverty level or below struggle to put food on the table.  As the price of consumer goods rise, the average salary amount for a middle class family in America is staying the same. We also have seen an increase of obesity in America, specifically in low income homes. As the correlation between being unhealthy and being poor unveils itself, we are faced with the unique challenge of how to feed and improve the quality of life for the next generation of Americans. The income of a classic nuclear family in poverty in the United States is around $25,000 a year. This means that an average family (about 4 people) lives on a little over $68 a day. Researchers say this amount isn’t even enough to keep food on the table and a roof over a family’s head. If America claims to be one of the richest countries in the world, why is it that America’s poverty levels are statistically higher than other developed countries?

(The graphic showcases a number of reasons that low-income households are more vulnerable to poor health –

Let’s look at the data. In America, one in five children grow up in poverty. That’s over 15 million kids who don’t know if they’ll have food to eat at the next meal. The effect of poverty on a developing child can be life long. Children who grow up in poverty can expect to see lower scores in core subjects such as math and reading, and are more likely to drop out of school. Children who are unsure of their next meal are more likely to be rowdy and poor behaved. They also are more likely to become incarcerated as an adult. 

(This shows the difference in price between a burger and a salad

The richest one percent hold over 45 percent of the world’s wealth. The reason that the wealth is so disproportionate is due to the astonishing poverty throughout the world. Yearly, a person in the top one percent could very possibly make more than someone at the poverty level will make in their lifetime. 

(An obese child surrounded by toys – CNN)

Government programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) aim to help struggling Americans get healthy food to add to their diets. But for many Americans, this simply isn’t enough. The average cost of a gallon of milk in America, which is essential to bone growth and development, is $2.85. The average cost of a loaf of bread can range from $2 to $4.45. For a lot of people, this simply isn’t achievable. But food stamps can only go so far. Most families will run out of stamps to use long before they are allowed to get more. And at that point, it’s just a fight to survive. 

(This graph shows the correlation between poverty and obesity in America

For most lower class citizens, the cheaper choices for food are often the unhealthy ones. A person can go to the store and get a coke for a dollar, but pay two dollars for a water. That same person can also go down an aisle and get unhealthy, premade noodles for fifty cents, but pay several dollars for some fruit. For a lot of people, it isn’t that they don’t want to eat healthy, it’s that due to the amount of money they have they just aren’t able to. 

A group marches through the streets in an effort to urge government officials to make laws that will end poverty for children

It is seen as an injustice to the common people if a person’s paycheck determines what their children can eat at night, if they can eat anything at all. While the top one percent lives in luxury, the rest of the population suffers the consequences. The inadequate diets of millions of Americans will eventually be the downfall of modern day society. We, as Americans, need to find a solution to the overwhelming issue of poverty in America.