Americans need more options for healthier eating | Opinion

Burgers, fries and chicken nuggets have long been staples of the American diet. They are part of the Standard American Diet, also known as “SAD”. But despite the general belief that Americans love saturated fat, Americans choose fast food out of necessity more than choice.

An oversaturation of processed meals and a lack of resources available to low-income people have affected Americans’ ability to make healthy food choices. To improve the situation, Americans need fairer prices, better access to grocery stores, and adequate transportation to these places to have the opportunity to have healthier foods.

Low-income households are the most affected by the overconsumption of processed foods. Convenience, price and proximity are all factors that lead them to fast food. If they shop at local convenience stores, these typically charge more for fresh food and offer less variety than the typical grocery store.

As grocery store prices have risen 9% in 2021, according to CNN Business, it’s becoming more and more expensive for the average American to afford healthy, home-cooked meals.

Prices need to be fairer in grocery stores, especially if the products are identical or of lower value. Many factors influence why grocery prices rise, from delivery prices to worker wages, but there are steps to make access to healthy food more available.

Price is not the only factor.

Healthy options just aren’t as readily available due to distance from grocery stores and lack of transportation. These areas, known as food deserts, have no grocery stores within a one-mile radius or within 10 to 20 miles in a rural area, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average distance to a grocery store is over three miles.

Those who must rely on public transportation often focus on getting to work rather than places like grocery stores. It is simply not possible for someone to go to the grocery store every day to bring home only what they need or to carry a week’s worth of food on public transport.

Fast food can be a great option when you’re on a budget or in a rush. But even a single meal can have long-lasting health effects. Eating fast food more than once a week has been linked to a higher risk of obesity, according to the Washington Post. Eating fast food more than twice a week leads to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and death from coronary heart disease.

Of course, it is within the power of people to make their own food choices. People should decide how much effort they put into their diet and budget accordingly.

But everyone should consider making healthier food choices, like replacing the typical burger with a salad. Again, unless prices come down, this won’t be a feasible option for low-income people.

Until we can all make equal choices, the United States will continue to have a food consumption problem. People need to focus more on promoting healthy eating while making it more accessible through variety, groceries and transportation.

@StarberryPunch

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About Walter Bartholomew

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