A new study released in Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine last Monday revealed that while the diet has improved over the last 10 years, the gap between rich and poor American families has worsened.
The study, which measures the relationship between diet quality and socioeconomic status, mentioned that rich American families experienced a significant improvement toward healthy eating while the low-income families rated more poorly than before, creating a very huge gap in terms of diet quality.
There are two possible reasons for the problem: high cost of food and limited food access in the supermarkets. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report last March 2014, the cost of fruits, vegetables, and certain meats had increased to 0.4% last February, the highest it's ever been since September 2011. For example, the prices of strawberries within the same period jumped to 12% while oranges went up to 3.4%. Milk retailers increased their prices to 36% for wholesale last December 2013. It's expected that the per-gallon retail will further go up this year.
Moreover, in a Feeding America survey, over 70% of families buy the cheapest available food even if they are aware of their lack of nutritive value.
The types of food that are currently sold in the market have also been a growing problem for the low-income families. Currently, the legislators are working on the changes in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly called the food stamp program. The said modification in the policy will further limit the food that may be sold in stores, preferring healthier choices than junk food and processed meats.
The quality index, nevertheless, showed a marked improvement in trans fats consumption especially after the Food and Drug Administration implemented a ban on such fats in processed goods.
The United States government, with First Lady Michelle Obama at the helm, is working on improving the family diet to help fight against childhood obesity. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Adolescent and School Health data, the rate of childhood obesity has doubled for the last 3 decades. Further, Children's Defense Fund mentioned that close to 50% of obese children with ages between 10 and 17 are poor.