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Eating healthy is not always truly feasible

Illustration of a person deciding to buy the unhealthy cheaper item or the healthy cheaper item
Illustration by Jada Webb | Staff Illustrator

Eating healthy is one of the best things a person can do for themselves. Illnesses caused by an unhealthy diet are common in America. With diabetes rates as high as 9.4 percent of the entire population and high blood pressure affecting more than 30 percent of adults over the age of 20, it is recognized as being a widespread issue.

Living a healthy lifestyle is something that tends to be somewhat stressed in American culture. It is generally known that eating veggies and cutting down fatty or salty foods is a good idea. In this society, sympathy is rarely granted to those who are overweight. It may seem intuitive that all it takes is the diligence to eat properly, but a perfectly healthy diet is not truly feasible for everyone.

Scientists at the American Heart Association have concluded that one of the most unhealthy styles of eating is the Southern diet, which consists of fried foods, processed meats, and beverages high in sugar. Data collected on the demographic breakdown seems to bolster the assertion that diet is not a simple matter of intuition, but something largely affected by income.

Additionally, those lacking a college degree were also found to follow the Southern diet as opposed to the healthier ones. African-American people, more often than not, follow the Southern diet, considering the median income for the African-American household sits just above 38,000 a year according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Seeing that those who are are lacking in substantial income also have less access to healthier foods makes it far more visible that, for many Americans, eating the healthiest diet is an out-of-reach luxury. For many manufacturers, producing highly processed foods is simply more conducive to longer shelf life, more extensive shipping and a higher profit margin than healthier, more organic foods.

These goods can afford to come with a lower price tag. Eating a “healthy” diet, on average, can cost $550 per person on a yearly basis according to studies by researchers at Harvard. [5]. It may seem trivial to those who are well off enough to afford it, but the reality is that this can place a great deal of stress on those in a lower income demographic.

Put bleakly, eating healthy is not affordable for poor citizens in America. For these people, a healthy diet is simply inaccessible. It is clear that if we truly wish for healthier American people, more effort is required to make healthy eating options more realistic and less troublesome for those who literally cannot afford to make their diet a priority.

– James Debbah is a computer science sophomore