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A Place in The Table: The Theme Of Obesity in The Documentary

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In the era we are in today, obesity is the most overheard topic in American. In the documentary “A Place At The Table,” explores the problem of food insecurity, by tieing together the stories of low-income Americans not able to put healthy table on the table for themselves and their children. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about about 50 million Americans, nearly 17 million children, fall into the category of food insecurity” (A Place at the Table 7). The relationship between hunger, poverty, and obesity is closely tied together than we think. Families living in poverty do not have the resources for healthy food that the body need, so obesity forms by the unhealthy food that the families could afford.

Food Insecurity is a major issue in American. Food Insecurity having uncertain access to enough nutritious food to lead an active and healthy life. “Food insecure households are those that struggle to put food on the table at some point during the year” (A Place at the Table 8). Families fall under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) defintion of “Low Food Security” having to make changes in the quality and/or quality of their food just to deal with limited budget. USDA may also file a family as “Very Low Food Security” and they struggle with not having enough food for the household. Very Low Food Security families have to cut back and sometimes even skip meals on frequent opportunities. People suffering from both “Low Food Security” and “Very Low Food Security” food insecurity face the threat of being hungry very frequently. “It is estimated in 2011, 50.1 million people lived in food-insecure households” (A Place at the Table 8). From these 50.1 million people, 33.5 were adults and about 16.6 million were children. “In 2012, more than one in six Americans said that there had been times within 12 months when they haven’t had enough money to buy food that their families needed” (A Place at the Table 8). Food Insecurity affects all Americans, but there has been recent studies that show that latino, black, and rural households are “hard-hit” by poverty which leads to hunger. “In 2011, 26.2% of Latino households, 25.1% of black households and 15.4% of rural households experienced food insecurity” (A Place at the Table 8). Though hunger and poverty affects many Americans, it particularly hits children the most. “16.6 million Americans under the age of 18 live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life” (A Place at the Table 9). Hunger, poverty, and obesity have a very tight relationship within each other.

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Hunger, a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat. Poverty the state of being extremely poor. Obesity the condition of being grossly fat or overweight. These three important words have a huge relation to one another. Risk factors associated with poverty make food insecure people and low income people have a higher risk to obesity. Poverty affects a lot in people’s lives that are experiences this. Poverty affects the quantity and the quality of the food people have access to. Neighborhoods that have these people living in poverty lack grocery stores and fresh markets where residents can purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and low fat dairy products. America today is struggling with obesity than ever before. Nearly “two-thirds of adults are overweight, and nearly one-third of children are overweight” (A Place at the Table 12). Although obesity affects any kind of income family, the one that obesity hits the most is low-income families. This is because low-income families do not have the money to go and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that a healthy human should have every day. “It is estimated that about “45% of overweight or obese children 10-17 do come from a low-income families” (A Place at the Table 15). Since obesity is a huge risk factor, the medical bills for obese children are raising very quickly. “Childhood obesity carries a huge price tag-up to $14 billion per year in direct healthcare costs” (A Place at the Table 15). These prices really affect the low-income families because they want their children and themselves to be taken care of, but they do not have the money to see doctors. Hunger, poverty, and obesity really do tie together and they are huge risk factors to health and themselves.

Hunger and obesity also affects people because of limited barriers to food access. Many people live in food deserts, which affects purchasing healthy food that every human needs. “29.7 million people live in a low-income urban area more than one mile from a supermarket” (A Place at the Table). Being in a low-income neighborhood also means not quality convenience stores. Because low-income neighborhoods don’t have quality fresh grocery stores that higher income neighborhoods have, they have “fast food, liquor and convenience stores selling unhealthy, high-fat, high sugar foods” (A Place at the Table 16). These stores selling these unhealthy foods in low-income neighborhoods causes higher risks of obesity in children and adults living there. Not only is it hard for residents living in a low-income to get healthy food miles away, it is difficult for them to find transportation to get them to these grocery stores. “Nearly one-third of the US population cannot easily access basic transportation to purchase food” (A Place at the Table 17). Not being able to get access to these grocery stores, also leads to hunger and obesity within the neighborhood.

“If we don’t change the direction we’re heading, this generation will be the first to live sicker and die younger than their parents’ generation” (A Place at the Table 20). The way our generation is eating now a days is very poor than how our parents generation was eating. Nowadays families go out to eat a lot more often than they did in the past. It’s fast, easy, and cheap. Being hungry and eating out affects children’s brains and how they function. “Severe hunger is associated with higher reported anxiety/depression among school-aged children” (A Place at the Table 20). This leads to lower grades and not being able to stay focused and awake in school. Many health risks are caused by not eating healthy. “Iron-deficiency anemia (low iron in the blood), a sign or poor diet, affects nearly 25% of children from lower-income families and is linked with impaired ability to learn” (A Place at the Table 21). Children and adults need certain nutrients and vitamins to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and eating at these fast food restaurants does not give them the things they need. Being hungry and not eating all the time also leads to health risks. “Children who struggle with hunger are sick more often and are more likely to be hospitalized” (A Place at the Table 21). These illnesses lead to headaches, stomachaches, colds, are fatigue. Not only are children making poor decisions on where and what to eat out of school, but schools may not be offering the right foods either. Also, hunger and making poor decisions on what they eat affects the child’s brain while in school.

Being hungry affects students education and paying attention in school. Both parents and teachers notice their kids and students not doing good in school because of not having healthy breakfast and or lunch. “62% of America’s teachers regularly see kids who come to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home” (A Place at the Table 28). Being hungry also affects the way students take tests. “Poor children who attend school hungry perform worse on standardized tests than poor children who attend school well fed” (A Place at the Table 28). This is disappointing because students are intelligent and they can do really good on these tests, but the lack of food messes with their brain and makes them not focused and tired. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) feeds many children free lunch in schools all around the world. “On a typical school day, 19.6 million children receive a free – or reduced-priced lunch through the NSLP” (A Place at the Table 28). This really helps students because if they don’t eat all day, they wouldn’t be focused at all, but with the free or reduced lunch the NSLP is providing, it helps students get some food into their systems so they could focus in school. The Hunger-Free Kids Act also plays an amazing role in feeding students in schools. “As part of the healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, starting in 2012 new school lunch guidelines doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables, increased the amount of whole grains, set limits on trans fats and salts, and required schools to offer low-fat instead of whole milk” (A Place at the Table 28). This gives students the healthy foods they need everyday to stay healthy which helps improve their focusing in school and standardized tests results.

There are many public and private solutions that are advocated all over the world. Private meaning the government giving money to poor people to purchase foods they need, and giving schools money to provide free or reduced lunches. Public meaning the local community’s food drives, and food banks. In my opinion, I vary between the two. I admire that the government is giving money to school and poor families to purchase foods that they need, but I believe that they are not given as much as they need. “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, gives families that qualify for food stamps $1.50 per meal” (A Place at the Table). This is not enough money for anyone to buy the right foods they need and the nutrients they need to maintain being healthy. Unhealthy foods, and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, is something that people on food stamps would purchase because it’s so cheap and they can buy a meal for the $1.50 they have to spend. I also admire public advocates having these food drives and food banks to help serve poor and hungry Americans over the world. In my opinion, I believe that there should be more of these food drives and food banks over the world, especially in countries and states that poverty and hunger is high. Both of these advocates are great, but there should be some changes in them in my opinion.

I believe that hunger really is a big issue that America is struggling with. The film showed unbiased people that struggle now with hunger. I believe that the film did a spectacular job interviewing and filming these families that struggle with hunger. The families gave me as a viewer an aspect as to what it is like to live in America and be hungry. It has a significant impact on me, and it was very emotional to see these people that are just like me not have access to healthy foods and go hungry. Hunger is as bad as it seems, and I believe that everyone in America that can afford food should donate food to food drives and or food banks and help give back to the poor. I think that the government should higher the amount of money on food stamps so that families living on food stamps can get the healthy nutrients they need to maintain a healthy life or diet.

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