Americans need more options for healthier diets

Burgers, fries and chicken nuggets have been longtime staples of the American diet. They are part of the standard American diet, also known as “SAD.” But despite the general belief that people in the U.S. love saturated fat, Americans pick fast food out of necessity more than choice. 

An over saturation of processed meals and a lack of resources available for low-income people have affected Americans’ ability to make healthy diet choices. To improve the situation, Americans need fairer prices, more access to grocery stores and adequate transportation to these locations to have the opportunity for healthier foods.

Low-income households are most affected by overconsumption of processed foods. Convenience, price and proximity are all factors that turn them towards fast food. If they shop at local convenience stores, those typically charge more for fresh food and provide less variety than the typical grocery store.

As grocery prices increased by 9% in 2021, according to CNN Business, it’s becoming more expensive for the average American to afford healthy, homemade meals.

Pricing needs to be fairer in grocery stores especially if the products are going to be the same or of lesser value. Many factors influence why groceries are going up in price, whether it’s delivery prices or workers’ wages, but there are steps to make access to healthy foods more available.

Price is not the only factor. 

Healthy options are just not as readily available because of the distance to grocery stores and a lack of transportation. These areas, known as food deserts, don’t have a grocery store within a one-mile radius or within 10 to 20 miles in a rural area, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average distance to get to a grocery store is over three miles. 

Those who have to rely on public transportation often focus on travel to work instead of locations like grocery stores. It’s just not feasible for someone to visit the grocery store every day to bring home only what they need or carry a week’s worth of food on public transportation. 

Fast food can be a great option when on a budget or in a rush. But even one meal can have long-term effects on health. Consuming fast food more than once a week has been linked to a higher risk for obesity, according to The Washington Post. Eating fast food more than twice a week leads to a higher risk for metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and death from coronary heart disease. 

Of course, it is in the power of people to make their own dietary choices. People should decide how much effort they put into their diets and budget accordingly. 

But everyone needs to consider making healthier choices when it comes to their diet, such as substituting a salad for the typical burger. Then again, unless prices decrease, that will not be a feasible option for low-income individuals.

Until we can all make equal choices, the U.S. will continue to have a food consumption problem. People need to focus more on promoting healthy eating while making it more available through variety, grocery locations and transportation.



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