Common sense tells that shortage of food or inaccessibility to food is associated with hunger, bad health and under nourished conditions and there is a direct relationship between poverty and under nutrition. Naturally talking about poverty as a cause of obesity does not make any sense. Unfortunately many families with low income and food insecurity have members tending to be over weight or obese, a contradiction hard to understand. This riddle is sought to be resolved by a recent study where it was found that poverty modulates the eating practices with children being fed with more food than it is necessary by the mothers under the impression that they are protecting their children from under development. Here is a take on this issue as reported recently from the US.
"Being worried about not having enough food to feed one's family, a situation called food insecurity, is common in low-income families. These families often are overweight, too. "Understanding the reasons why poverty puts families at greater risk of obesity is essential to addressing the epidemic," said study lead author Rachel Gross, MD, MS, FAAP, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and The Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York. Dr. Gross and her colleagues at the New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center, interviewed 201 low-income mothers with infants younger than 6 months about their feeding styles (whether they tried to control how much the child ate), feeding practices (e.g., breastfeeding, adding cereal to bottles) and concerns about their child becoming overweight. Studies have shown that feeding patterns leading to obesity often begin in infancy. The mothers primarily were Hispanic, and all participated in the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Results showed that about one-third of the mothers reported food insecurity".
Probably there may be some truth in this paradoxical situation as every mother considers her children precious gift to be nurtured at any cost and what else is more important than food? Therefore early feeding practices shape the attitude of the growing children to food and the habit of gorging on food continues during adulthood and later. How such a seemingly contradictory situation can be addressed is a complex question requiring inputs from sociologists, psychologists, nutritionists and government administrators. Constant help from the medical community in the form of counseling to such families may be of some help but the logistics to arrange such services are considered difficult. Ultimately education is the right answer and more literate the family, better will be the chances for understanding the nuances of eating healthy food in correct proportions.