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One of the possible health effects that food insecurity can have on physical appearance is weight gain. Since food assistance programs only allocate a certain amount of money per month, there is a higher chance that the cheaper, more calorie-dense food will be bought as opposed to the more expensive, nutritionally-dense food. Over time, choosing the cheaper food can effect your body weight.

Produced by Steph Diegel

Why Does Food Insecurity Lead to Obesity

By: Steph Diegel

Food insecurity has many effects on people. One of the main effects that it has on your physical appearance is that over time you may gain weight. Since you are only given a certain amount of money per meal there is a bigger likely hood that you will choose the cheaper food which is usually the more calorie dense food. Over time choosing the cheaper food will effect your body weight.

When an individual is put on Food Stamps, they are given only a certain amount of money per day to use for food. Long time friends Cathy Lilley and Margaret Errington have been on food stamps for a combined total of over 25 years, and have seen how they impact their families when they go food shopping.

“With food stamps you can buy pretty much anything that’s edible for human consumption. I mean obviously you can’t buy something like dog food and that type of thing,”Lilley said. “It varies in different stores. If you go to like a mom-and-pop type store, you can pretty much buy anything.” She knows that the cheaper foods that fit into her budget are not always the healthiest options. “What I look for when I go to the store is to stay on budget, basically what’s on sale,” Errington said. “You look at the sale items first and then you look at the list you’re going to need. Then you stretch it as far as you can with your budget and coupons and everything.”

When working with a very thin budget people tend to buy in bulk,and not necessarily look at how many calories they are eating. Nutritionist Andrew Brown stated that, “ A lot of the time you will see people go out and buy things that have a lot of calories in them, like potato chips, pretzels, things like that, things that come processed in containers that are relatively cheap,” Andrew Brown, certified dietician and nutritionist, said. “I need to buy cheap because I can only have so much money that I can possibly spend.” When adding up the amount of calories that are consumed, combined with a lack of exercise, weight gain will be a problem. Brown said, “The excess of 3,000-4,000 calories a day for people that only really need 2,000 and those calories only seem to build and build and build, increasing the persons body weight.”

Barbie Izquierdo, a hunger advocate and former SNAP user, said.“When you are food insecure and you don’t have enough food to eat and you have let’s say $3, you go to the supermarket, you can get about a 12 pack of Ooodles and Noodles for maybe $2.99. And then you have these fruits and these vegetables that are maybe $4.99 a pound,” In many cases there may not be the option to choose fresh vegetables and fruits over snacks like chips and pretzels, so many SNAP users buy cheaper meals (that tend to be less healthy) in order to get more food for the money that they receive. Over time, this can increase calorie intake and potentially body weight.

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