Is there an economic component to obesity rates in the united states

There have been several prominent researchers espousing an economic cause of obesity. One the leading voices is Dr. Adam Drewnowski of the University of Washington. Dr. Drewnowski is the director of the Exploratory Center for Obesity Research.

Dr. Drewowski is one the obesity researchers who really dig into the numbers concerning obesity. He’s had a couple of great articles published about his theories, including one in the New York Times.


I don’t want to misrepresent his point of view, but he believes that your economic status impacts your ability to buy healthy food. He’s one of the first researchers to not just note this, but devote research to it.

I cannot find his latest study, but based on this blog entry, which is based on a press report there is a fascinating new look at things. (I don’t like pointing to anything other than source materials, but I cannot find the study online. I’ve emailed the center to see if I can get it.)

Anyway, the study looks at obesity rates, zip codes and income. They were able to find a link among the three and it shows that the poorer the zip code, the higher the obesity rate. Without the actual study I cannot ascertain how they obtained the obesity rates, but Dr. Drewnowski typically does a top notch job.

This is fascinating for the following reasons:

You are limited in food choices: People in these zip codes are typically limited in their access to fresh, whole, nutritional food. Usually, they are relegated to choosing prepackaged, processed foodstuffs.

It is generational: The zip codes typically include generations of the same families, so food practices are passed from one generation to the next.

I have more questions and assumptions about the study. I’ve emailed them to see if I can get a copy of it.