Monday, August 29, 2011

Obesity and poverty: Burger King takes food stamps?

The Western World, and the United States in particular, is one of the few places in the world where obesity rates are higher in poor families than in the general population.

Reasons for this are many, ranging from the prevalence of "food deserts" in poor communities, to the ease of buying preprocessed food for time-strapped families working multiple jobs, to the relatively low cost of fast food in relation to healthy food.

Well, the picture below -- taken at a Burger King in San Francisco's Civic Center -- highlights another potential reason. This fast food restaurant is directly marketing its product to the poor, advertising it will accept EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer, the modern equivalent of food stamps) as payment. It's not difficult to see how poverty and obesity are related in this context.

This is a depressing development. I realize there's not much in the way of markets in the Tenderloin area, but I'd still like to see public benefits used for more-healthy food. I certainly would rather my state representatives, such as my State Senator Leland Yee, address this issue instead of unconstitutional bans on video game sales.

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