A Third Of Homeless People Are Obese

Photo: David Dennis (CC)

Photo: David Dennis (CC)

How do homeless people have enough food to become obese? It seems something of a paradox, until you look at the processed junk they eat. Via CNN:

Obesity is a widespread epidemic, even among the homeless.

While the popularized image of a homeless individual is one of skin and bones, a new study shows the reality is not so. One in three (32.3%) homeless individuals in the United States is obese, highlighting a hunger-obesity paradox.

The paradox is that hunger and obesity can exist in the same person. And although a person may be overweight or obese, he or she can lack proper nutrition.

Nutrition is a daily challenge for homeless people, as the foods they manage to get are often full of preservatives and high in sodium, fats and sugars. They may not have access to healthier options like fresh fruits and vegetables.

“It’s the lowest socio-economic group who has the biggest obesity problem,” said Paul Montgomery, one of the authors of the study published in the Journal of Urban Health. “No one looked at the homeless problem before. What we found was this group has a significant obesity problem that wasn’t known.”…

[continues at CNN]


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26 Comments on "A Third Of Homeless People Are Obese"

  1. its  sad seeing homeless people, but they remind me that i have a lot to be grateful for.

  2. Jesus Borg | May 26, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    Well, first of all the Food pantries are big on carbs. Lots of places give away free bread and free pastry. Its harder to get meat. They aren’t hurting for food. In a good size town you can get food stamps plus hit up places to get three or more free meals a day. Often people hit two places in a row and have one meal twice. So you can eat 4 or five meals a day plus hit food pantries plus get food stamps.

    Pan handling is for cigarette money, or other stuff not food, generally.

    • There’s always the option of dumpster diving too, it’s ridiculous the amount of perfectly good food super markets will chuck out every day bcause a product has a slight defect.

  3. Another of the problems associated with this situation is that homeless service providers have a very difficult time raising funds so to stay in operation.   There are very few effective means available for them to cover operating costs..  One way that actually works is to tell the general public that the homeless are starving.  This is usually accompanied by the picture of a young homeless looking child.    For this, these shelters get food and cash donations.   But it  misleads the public about the general state of homelessness.   Homeless people don’t starve.   They don’t have access to very good food either, but that’s another point.   The people more  likely to be starving in America are the working poor.  The people who have a place, and a job, but the cost of living eats up most of their paycheck and so they have very little left for food.   And where they live is not near any services that might provide food, so for them access food pantries etc, is limited.

  4. Anarchy Pony | May 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm |

    Just remember; because our homeless people are fat, it magically means that it’s not really a problem. Right wingnut logic. 

  5. ajkingsbury | May 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm |

    I wonder if there is an alcohol component.  Alcohol is a calorie dense form of mostly sugar, with little nutritional content.  fIs this part of the picture ?

    • Because alcohol is produced from sugar doesn’t make it a sugar itself. In the same way that milk isn’t a form of grass.

      The bioavailability of ethanol as an energy source is still being debated. Just because it releases energy when burned in a caloriemeter doesn’t mean that the same thing will happen in the human body. However, many alcoholic drinks are rich in proper sugars which makes them fattening. A vodka only diet will not make you fat.

      • ajkingsbury | May 26, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

        I have done a quick research and I see your point.  However, even though alcohol related sugars are different than simple sugars, they are in fact fairly simple carbohydrates, and almost nobody disputes that alcoholic beverages are high in simple carbohydrate calories. And while a person who consumes a high percentage of vodka as a percentage of his or her daily calories may not be fat, this may be for other reasons, like say, malnutrition, poor liver function, low muscle composition or just generally poor health.  Still I was not making a point but asking a question. It is estimated that about a third of homeless people (before the recession) are mentally ill.  The mentally ill have a strong tendency to self-medicate. No wonder about that: if I lived on the streets, I might too.
        I was asking the question, but not asserting that I knew why the obesity statistic is so high in such an underfed populaation.But I learned something about alcohol carbs today 🙂

  6. pepper ann | May 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    Bull sh*t fresh fruits and veggies are actually very cheap. Its not that they don’t have access to healthier options it’s that they do not care about their nutrition because they have much bigger problems than that. When your life is in the pit eating highly processed fatty foods is a therapy.

  7. teachpeace | May 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

    It’s the same percentage as Amer. adults in general.

  8. zombieslapper | May 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

    They make poor food choices, too. I once overheard a homeless couple arguing about where to spend the $5 they had. She wanted McDonald’s and he wanted to go to the grocery store for something healthier & more filling.

  9. Obese homeless people: only in America.

    • zombieslapper | May 27, 2012 at 1:09 am |

       Dickheads with big mouths: Only wherever the fuck you are from. And everywhere else.

      Wait until all the homeless people in your country can only afford fast or processed foods.

      • Turns out I’m American.

        Which in your worldview might mean I’m only allowed to say nice things about the place, or else I’m “unpatriotic,” right?

        Having a big mouth is a birthright in America. Being a dickhead? You’re more qualified than I to know the entry requirements to that particular club.

  10. withgoddess | May 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm |

    A third of homeless people could be on psychiatric meds which cause one to gain weight.   A third of homeless people could be hypothyroid.  A third of homeless people could have all kinds of undiagnosed illnesses.

  11. DeepCough | May 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm |

    Don’t you see: this is trickle-down economics: what little money or resources are made available to the poor, they will acquire and use to eke out whatever existence they can. They food at McD’s is so cheap, because it barely passes for food since it’s so heavily processed, the only thing you can get out of it are the three basic nutrients, which are protein, fat, and salt.

  12. Sugar and starch are the culprits. Look at what happened to the Pima Indians: one of the poorest groups in America, who also had the highest obesity & diabetes rates. They subsisted on US govt. rations, which were sugar and flour. A staple of their diet was fried sugar bread. Go figure.  Cf. Gary Taubes book Good Calories, Bad Calories.

    • MrTwilight23 | May 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm |

      Gary Taubes is an amazing guy; and I’ve spent many hours watching his various lectures on youtube. “Good Calories, Bad Calories” is a tough read though. I loaned it out to my overweight family members and they just gave up on it. “Why We Get Fat” is his newer condensed version of GC,BC and is a quick read and it does a good job of summing up the original book. But just watch his youtube lectures and the core concepts are there. His Google Talks lecture is a good one.

  13. Alucard_the_last | May 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

    Then stop feeding them.  A litter hunger goes a long way.  It will give them the motivation to work.

  14. MrTwilight23 | May 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

    If you were starving and only had a dollar, what would you buy to feed yourself?

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