It is common knowledge that poor urban areas tend to have a higher rate of childhood obesity. Since her husband took the presidential office more than three years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama has campaigned vigorously to encourage physical activity and sensible eating among America’s youth.
While studies have showed that there are more fast food diners and convenience stores in poor neighborhoods, there were also more grocery stores, which made fruits and vegetables far more accessible. Recent studies have also showed that there is no noticeable correlation between obesity and number of fast food diners within a city.
This raises questions whether increasing access to healthy foods is really the answer as the First Lady has been advocating for. According to federal data, childhood obesity rates remain relatively the same in spite of efforts and programs to get Americans to exercise and eat healthier foods.
Michelle Obama’s crusade for a healthier and leaner nation has also included a call for schools to serve more nutritious meals. Her campaign has been praised by liberals while criticized by some conservatives, claiming that it is a move towards a nanny state.
Helen Lee, a member of the Public Policy Institute of California, conducted a study of 8,000 children in urban areas. The results indicated that poor neighborhoods did indeed have about twice as many fast food joints compared to more affluent neighborhoods. However, they also had just about as many super markets and grocery stores.
Childhood obesity is without a question a growing epidemic. However, the notion that children in poor neighborhoods are at a disadvantage due to a lack of access to healthy foods is just an excuse. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their kids get daily exercise and eat a proper diet. If given a choice between a hamburger and a plate of vegetables, children are obviously going to go for the burger because it tastes better. This is where parents need to be the role model and help them make the right decisions. Government intervention is not the answer.