Obesity Gap in Kids From Bell Gardens vs Manhattan Beach

I think this article is comparing apples and oranges. I don't think the growing obesity rate and trends are necessarily based on economics or race; otherwise, how does one explain the obesity rate among Caucasian families say in the middle American red states? And, as other bloggers have pointed out, it is grossly unfair to compare any city to an "image obessed" west side California beach community. I also thought this article was important because we belong in the Montebello School District and Bell Gardens is the southern most city.


Another perspective

I find that in some more affluent communities and social circles, fat people get a lot of mean comments, nasty looks and so forth. I find this is less so than in more lower-middle-class areas, and not that common in working-class communities. This creates peer pressure to stay thin.

Also, for cultural reasons, the vegetable situation in some communities sucks. In the wealthy cities, the high prices are tolerable, but in poor communities, vegetables are cheaper, but people make far less money, so the veggies are really more expensive. The only community where I don't see this is in the Chinese Vietnamese ethnic communities in some cities, where there are these small, sometimes dingy, vegetable vendors who have great prices, great produce, and super-low prices.

I assume it's due to eating patterns. African American hoods have the worst veggies, and look at what they eat and how they eat it. Lots of meat. The veggies are cooked down until they're soft - so qualities like sweetness, crunch, and the flavor when it's raw or stir-fried don't matter.

Latinos - again, all the little markets have pretty good meat counters, and usually a butcher on site. You can have a carniceria every five blocks. But the veggies are anemic or limited at these small stores. In the supermarkets the situation is much better - and Mexican markets have a great selection of fruits (seriously - better than anything else) - but for every pound of meat you eat, that's a pound of veggies you're not eating. Veggies are a side dish or a condiment.

In the midwest, old-school white people generally eat like Mexicans. Roasted, fried, grilled, and boiled meat. Lots of starches, breads. Lots of packaged foods - there's no longer shame in not knowing how to cook or bake. And lots of grease. Same for the south. And the reason why whites in Los Angeles are so much healthier and wealthier, is because their poorer cousins moved to the South or Midwest, or Vegas, or Texas. Not saying they're racist, but sometimes, it's nice to be in an "affirmative action for whites" situation when you can't compete on the coasts... or don't want to compete for $9 an hour service jobs.

Now Asians, gotta be a mixed bag. Korean stores are cheap, but the produce is variable, but at least they have a good amount. Japanese stores have an ever-shrinking vegetable section. It's like a glacier melting - one day, you look and the veggies are hardly there. All the space is packaged foods.

There aren't many Thai stores in LA, but the ones seem to cater to restaurants, so you can get Thai stuff mostly. Quality varies.

Chinese stores - a mixed bag again. I think they're westernizing, or came over more westernized, so you have a great meat and fish section, tons of packaged and frozen foods, and a veggie section not much larger than American supermarkets. One exception is Hawaii, which has a huge veggie section.

Chinese Viet and Vietnamese are a mixed bag in LA. They mostly go to the Chinese stores. I've heard the one on Rosemead is good. Years ago, you always saw competing mom-and-pop vegetable stores. These were little stores that were dominated by produce, and had a few aisles of other things.

The westernized diet of processed and packaged foods, processed grains, pre-cooked foods, and sugar, salt, and fat, is just absurd. It tastes bad. We'd all be happier eating like a low-income Vietamese refugee trying to save money by loading up on vegetables. Instead, we're eating more like indigenous people on reservations who get flour, oil, cheese, and butter from the government -- so they invent frybread. (You would too!) Then they get fat.

The article's premise, that there's a lack of healthy choices, ignores these cultural factors. People generally want to eat the same things over and over. The fast way to get them to eat healthier is to ban the unhealthy stuff. Force restaurants to adapt - and many won't. So what?

As for healthier versions of food - the traditional Mexican foods are very healthy. It's the Americanized version with a big-ass layer of melted cheese on it that's unhealthy.

Look at something like mole chicken - it's a boiled chicken with a sauce that's mostly chiles. Many Mexican foods are really just stews, braised meats, and vegetables in a sauce that's mostly chiles, and a lot of sauces. There's a lot of pumpkin. This isn't unhealthy at all.

The problem is that Mexican Americans are eating burgers, fries, a coke, tacos, enchiladas with a lot of cheese, quesadillas, nachos, pizza, deli sandwiches and chips. That's pretty much the LA diet, right there.

Likewise, look at a diet considered "healthy" the Japanese one. And it can be, but lately, it's gotten more tonkatsu, more ramen, more tempura, and a lot of snack foods and processed foods. It's no wonder obesity is a growing problem in Japan.

Japanese need to go back to eating a little fish, pumpkin, simmered vegetables, brown rice, thin soups, and overall get back to eating like the villagers did a century ago.

Everyone needs to go in this direction.

The Future

100 years from now we'll all look like fat Philipinos.