Growing unemployment rates are leading to an increase in unhealthy eating habits among Americans, according to the Huffington Post. Notably, black families are most affected by the trend.
The long lines of kale-wielding, quinoa-devouring customers at Whole Foods may be a bit deceiving when it comes to gauging the country's state of health-conscious eating. Notoriously high prices and inaccessibility are well-known villains in the fight to bolster healthier eating habits among black Americans, whose unemployment rate is nearly double that of Americans overall.
And with longer hours on the job and less money in the pocket, many black families have turned to fast food to get rid of the hunger pangs. Cheap, caloric and delicious — fast food's increased popularity during heightened unemployment goes beyond value menus and penny pinching. Three dollars not only buys three items at a fast-food restaurant but can also buy the addictive saturated fats, sugar and calories that have long been a source of comfort from dwindling-wages-induced anxiety.
"In times of stress or distress, our bodies are quite simply hardwired to seek out high-energy sources of food," David Schlundt, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University who specializes in behavioral medicine, told the Huffington Post. "How did our earliest ancestors know what a high-energy source of food was? Well, quite simply, if it tasted sweet or had a lot of fat, it was very satisfying. Today it just so happens that fatty, sugary foods also tend to be cheap."
Just because fatty foods are a bargain doesn't mean healthy eating has to be expensive. Many argue that healthy eating is more than obscure vegetables, imported grains and probiotic-infused beverages that tend to break the bank. The government's newest food guidelines have come under fire for promoting pricey organic and fresh foods that seem out of reach for many low-income black families.
But as unemployment rises, even a $3 meal is becoming more of a luxury than an everyday reality for some, including the estimated millions who are turning to food banks and soup kitchens for food. In fact, the Food Bank for New York City is reportedly feeding 100,000 more people than it did just three years ago.
Read more at the Huffington Post.
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