A recent study quoted in the Los Angeles Times online edition (Oct.6) found that nearly 26% residents of South Los Angeles are considered obese, as compared to 18% of the residents of Los Angeles County who live in higher-income areas. There were many other interesting findings reported in the story – including a comparison of the overall fruit and vegetable consumption between residents of South Los Angeles and those in other areas (virtually the same) and the proportion of people who participate in 300 minutes of exercise or more per week (virtually the same). Finally, it’s worth noting that there presently is not a higher concentration of fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles than in other areas.
So, what is making residents of the South Los Angeles area more obese?
The conclusion of think tank Rand Corp. researchers appears to be consistent with other study results – South Los Angeles residents are consuming more snacks and sodas than people in other areas, and are more likely to watch more television. I’d have to agree with Marion Nestle, nutrition professor at New York University, who stated, “…People living in poor inner-city areas do not have easy access to healthful, affordable food, especially fresh food. Lack of food access is highly correlated with diet-related health conditions”. I am reminded of that oft-used saying, “Once again, education is the answer”.