You’d think that once you take the budget constraints off, people can eat better, but that isn’t always the case.
University of Alberta graduate student Denise Maxwell who studied the factors around whether people with Type 2 diabetes stick to their diets, specifically at the correlation between dietary habits and economic circumstances, found having more money doesn’t make you more careful about your diet.
Edmonton, Canada residents who make more than $120,000 a year are actually eating worse than some of the city’s poorest citizens with an annual income of less than $25,000, according to the study.
Indeed, Maxwell’s thesis ‒ ‘Type 2 diabetes: Economics of Dietary Adherence’ ‒ reaffirms that people in low income brackets often struggle to afford healthy food, and that diets become healthier as incomes rise. That’s true up to a point, but then it goes down
In fact, Maxwell found that people eating the healthiest diets were actually spending less on food than those eating poorly. “The more you are spending on food, it seems the worse your diet quality is. Which seems, when you first think about it, that it doesn’t make any sense,” she said.
Maxwell said she was surprised to see that the improvement in diet only continued to a certain income level before starting to fall again. The highest quality diets were found in people that make about $60,000 a year, a population she said was eating lots of meat, vegetables and fruit, and less packaged, frozen and restaurant food. “After that, their diet goes down pretty fast, and it goes down quite far,” she said.
“It actually goes down further than people that are on a very low income, and that was the part that was surprising. The people that are at the lower income actually have a better diet than the people at the very high income level,” she said.
While the poor are limited by money, the rich are limited by time. Maxwell’ s findings show that people in the higher income bracket are working more, and are eating convenience foods and dining in restaurants because of time constraints. “But just because it costs more doesn’t mean it’s better for you,” she said.
Maxwell said the study shows the need to continue educating the poor about healthy and economic food options, and to begin educating the rich about preparing healthy meals quickly.
Based on a news report in the The Vancouver Sun
Tags: Health, Living, Diabetes, Diet, Income