Why Poor People Are Fat – The Ugly Truth of a Global Epidemic

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If you look at the statistics, you will inevitably conclude that there is a global obesity epidemic. People across the world, but mainly in the United States, suffer from being significantly overweight. According to the statistics, many of those people are poor with low education rates, unemployed, or living in low-income neighborhoods.

But why are poor people fat? Is it the food they eat, their lifestyle, or the lack of physical activity that causes them to be obese?

Why Poor People Are Fat – Facts

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According to reports from last year, more than 1 billion people suffer from obesity. Most of them are adults, but there was a significant rate of obesity in teenagers and small children. If you look at the countries with the highest rates of obesity, you will find the United States at the top of the list, followed by some less wealthy countries.

If we can conclude one thing, it is that the United States has a serious problem with overweight people. Most of these people are poor, uneducated, and unemployed. A small fraction of them are also known to be in the middle class, leaving the upper-class community as the community with the lowest rates of obesity.

What this tells us, statistically speaking, is that poor people are the fattest. When looking at the facts and what causes them to be obese, we can point to two leading causes. The first is the food they eat, whereas the second is their physical activity or, should we say, lack thereof.

Let’s talk about these categories in greater detail.


One of the main problems that poor people have is a need for easy access to fresh and healthy food. If you look at many low-income neighborhoods or cities, you will find that there are not many grocery stores or markets. People have no choice but to rely on fast-food restaurants or small food stores that do not offer healthy food.

But there is another thing that we have to mention. Even if stores were selling fresh fruits, vegetables, or raw meat, poor people may not visit them because it costs much more to buy fresh food and cook it than to buy a cheap hamburger or fatty meal. With fresh food, you also have to consider the electricity or gas costs needed to cook a meal.

Instead of dealing with all this, many poor people go with ready-made cheap food that they do not have to think much about. They eat that food themselves and give it to their children, causing the children to also become obese or grow into obese adults. It is a vicious cycle that one cannot break easily.

Some would say that it comes down to personal preferences and that poor people can try to save up and eat healthier food, but the fact is that a limited budget and limited choices can only lead you to surrender to what you know is wrong. 

It is up to others, specifically the more powerful and influential people, to help change the situation instead of blaming the poor.

Physical Activity

While food plays a significant role in a person’s overall health and well-being, one should also take physical activity into account. Research has shown that low-income families are not obese solely because of the food they eat but also because they generally do not partake in any physical activity.

You may wonder why that is, as being poor does not stop you from going out for a walk or a stroll. But what you fail to take into account is that most of these poor people have to work several jobs to make ends meet. That leaves little time or desire for after-hours physical activity.

Parents who work long hours are also less likely to plan or have time for activities with their children. They might not even have the money to send the children to after-school activities. And since the lack of money and time causes adults to be sedentary individuals, one can only expect the children to become lazy too. 

But another thing needs to be considered here.

You might be aware of the fact that crime rates are higher in low-income neighborhoods. With that in mind, who would be willing to stay out all day or send their child to play on public grounds? In such places, people are more likely to stay inside, which means they will not be as active as people in safer neighborhoods would be.

How to Help Reduce Obesity in Low-Income Neighborhoods?

If you want to help a community become healthier, you can start by teaching them to love fresh food and appreciate the benefits it can give. 

Providing poor people with access to food that will keep them healthy is also a great option. Opening stores in low-income neighborhoods can open up new job positions while also allowing people to have access to nutritious food.

It will take a village and a long time to educate people on the risks of obesity and help them realize the benefits of healthy fresh food. But we have to start somewhere, and if we succeed in improving things where they are most problematic, we will solve half the problem! 


As we reach the end of this guide, we hope that you have a clear idea of why poor people are fat. Obesity rates are out of control, so we should do whatever we can to help lower them and improve the situation in low-income neighborhoods and all other places. 

If you have any opinions on the topic or ideas on how we can help poor people who are dealing with obesity, please share them in the comments below. We appreciate your input!

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