Rich Kids Eat Junk Food Too

The Lempert Report
October 06, 2015

A new survey from the CDC debunks a popular line of thinking about kids diets.

Research suggests that kids from low-income families are more likely to be obese than wealthier children, but the reasons why are complex and scientists are still searching for answers while looking at the relationship between factors such as income, diet and exercise.

New research from the CDC has made this all a little muddier by contrasting a popular theory that in poorer neighborhoods, and areas known as "food deserts", families rely more on fast food which are generally heavy on calories and low on nutrition. According to the CDC survey, about a third of kids’ ages 2-19 ate fast food on the day before the survey was conducted. Wealthier kids got about 13 percent of their calories from fast food, compared with 11.5 percent for poorer children. And regardless of income, overweight or obese kids didn’t report getting more of their calories from fast food. Instead, proportions were similar for kids no matter their weight.

So perhaps it's not just as simple as blaming fast food. The CDC noted that it’s possible while kids of all income levels eat about the same amount of fast food, those in poor households get less nutritious meals at home.  So the notion of living in a food desert becomes more impactful and it's here that supermarkets can help. 

Retailers should push for delivery services in areas where good supermarkets are not available, or even mobile trucks that can drive into these areas and set up shop for a day with fresh produce and more nutritious meal recipes and ideas. And for supermarkets that are located near low income neighborhoods they should offer deals and discounts for produce that is getting close to use by dates or even slightly damaged. Many consumers in low income areas are looking for low cost and convenience and supermarkets should make sure these options are available and these customers are catered to.