By Alex Gryciuk
TW: Weight (numbers)
While COVID-19 plagues the public during a pandemic, another epidemic silently kills a vast majority of Americans: the obesity epidemic. Shockingly, from 2017 to 2018, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that almost two-thirds of Adult Americans were either overweight or obese (30.7% overweight, 42.4% obese). In children ages two to nineteen, more than a third were overweight or obese (16.1% overweight, 19.3% obese).
Organizations like healthline.com acknowledge that excessive amounts of fat on the body could be a result of eating “an imbalance of calories” that when not burned, the “body stores the extra energy as fat.” However, this modern epidemic proves more complicated than it seems. A Harvard analysis of a scientific study accurately explains that it’s not even the amount of calories, but the quality of calories that people eat. The study concludes that “many of the foods that increase disease risk-chief among them, refined grains and sugary drinks-are also factors in weight gain” while healthy foods like nuts, fruits, and vegetables help in weight control and disease prevention. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic states that “inherited, physiological and environmental factors, combined with diet, physical activity and exercise choices”, play a large factor in unhealthy, excessive weights in individuals in addition to a high caloric intake.
Those factors worsen for lower-income populations as the National Center of Biotechnical Information states that lower-income populations are more “vulnerable to obesity” more specifically because of “conditions [that] confine one’s access to (healthy) food and healthcare”. So, rather than the common misconception that the obesity epidemic in the United States stems from just overeating and a lack of exercise, a more environmental factor plays a significant role in an individual’s weight, often that is higher in low-income populations.
One common environmental barrier preventing access to healthy foods are food deserts. Often in lower-income neighborhoods, food deserts make it hard for people to buy affordable, healthy food due to income (unable to buy expensive healthy options) and the availability of local grocery stores that contain healthier foods. Lower-income populations living in food deserts who have no easy access to healthier choices, but rather unhealthy fast food, then have to resort to eating highly processed and unhealthy foods as it’s their only alternative. Those people are pushed to an unhealthy weight by environmental factors controlling the quality of calories that people eat.
As an effort to fight against a lack of healthy food, Wholesome Wave provides a solution to income-based obesity. Newman’s Own Foundation states that Wholesome Wave was “created to address diet-related diseases by helping low-income Americans buy and eat healthy fruits and vegetables.” In fact, Wholesome Wave provides funds through their Healthy Choice Initiatives that work with other funding initiatives and community-based organizations to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to communities that would not have normally had access to them. They provide another healthy, revolutionary solution to income-based obesity with their “FED,” or Produce Prescription Program. In the “FED” program, they work with health care providers to prescribe fruits and vegetables to ensure that all communities, specifically lower-income, can get the necessary foods needed to prevent diseases and weight-related issues. This program empowers individuals to take control of their health but also works as a way to lower the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables for those who need it most. Finally, and most importantly, they work on educating the public through local communities on how to eat healthier and make the best choices for their health.
In all, Wholesome Wave works extremely hard with innovative measures to create a healthier America. Altogether, it has helped in over 49 states and 100 communities in order to combat “nutrition-based insecurity” and “re-invest private funding to demonstrate what might happen if public funding was used more effectively.” Wholesome Wave is truly an amazing organization that has taken a new approach to solve the obesity epidemic. By providing healthier options and educational services they ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to live healthier, happier lives. If you would like to help or learn more about the organization please consider visiting the links below.
Getting involved in your community:
Wholesome Wave Website for more information: