Choice versus cheap

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With regard to Amanda O’Brien’s column “Is cheap food an obesity culprit?” published in The Telegram, May 29, we would like to voice our opinion on the subject area.

The article supports the belief that cheap “junk” food is a major cause of obesity.

We strongly disagree with the author’s viewpoint and we believe there are more important causes leading to Canadians becoming more obese; specifically, that health is not their main priority.

The unhealthy food choices that people are making does contribute to obesity, and, in our opinion, these choices are not determined by the label price.

People eat “junk food” for simply one reason: it tastes good.

People might try to rationalize that their unhealthy food choices are due to the high cost of healthy food, when in fact they are pushing the reality into their subconscious in order to avoid feeling guilty.

The initial article states our society is spending a smaller portion of income on food.

This is because our priorities have changed.

Decades ago, people worked to provide food and shelter to the family.

Today in society, the majority of our income goes to unnecessary expenses for our personal enjoyment.

Too much money is being wasted on alcohol, cigarettes, soft drinks and eating out.

It is very expensive to eat out compared to cooking at home.

Considering the cheap price of eating at fast-food establishments, it is still cheaper to buy nutritious groceries and prepare a meal yourself.

It is evident that people do not have time, and/or do not enjoy cooking. Before someone says they don’t have money to eat healthy, they should look at how much they spend in food establishments as well as on other unnecessary goods.

We do acknowledge the availability of junk food has increased, but that doesn’t mean we have to eat it.

In addition, we encourage people to visit a local supermarket to compare prices of junk food and healthy food and you will realize it is not overly expensive to purchase healthier food choices.

The process of weight loss takes time and commitment.

It can also be a fairly challenging transition to one’s lifestyle since they must understand the process of macronutrient distribution, carb cycling, the importance of nutrient density/food volume, and the thermic effect of food if they want to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off.

Therefore, if people want to reduce the fast growing obesity rates, they need to change their mindsets and start eating healthier foods.

This also requires one to reduce their consumption of fatty, sugary and salty foods.

If we want to lower obesity rates, our health must be one of our top priorities.

Unfortunately, it is not.

It is close to the bottom, and it shows through our growing number of health issues, waist circumferences and long lineups at fast food restaurants.

Once people commit to putting the time and effort into changing their lifestyle to a healthier one, we will see obesity rates decline.


Mark Richards and Danielle Gosse

Fourth year kinesiology students

St. John’s

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Recent comments

  • wanda white
    July 27, 2014 - 22:55

    As a person on a very limited budget , I strongly disagree with Mark and Denises' comment. When you only have X amount to spend on food you will buy whatever food you see that will feed your family over a defined period. Say you only had $50 to spend on groceries for a week. A bag of oatmeal is $4.00, milk- $4.70, bag of apples-$5.00, thats $13.70 and you haven't even had lunch yet. Eggs-$4.79, bread- $3.00, potatoes-$5.00, meat or chicken-$8.00 brocolli-$3-4..00, cheese -$5.99, pretty close to $50 and we can't forgettuna, pasta, sauce. Now pop is 99 cents for 2 litres, fries, 3/5.00, pizza pops $3.00, bag of nuggets $5.00 feeding you far cheaper than 'wholesome foods'

  • Tracy Williamson
    July 25, 2014 - 21:48

    To the students presuming so much about the lives of people who may be overweight or obese: I can't dispute that we've lost something by letting corporations cook food for us, but to blame obesity solely on individual eating choices flies in the face of research that in fact points more to inherited, epigenetic factors. Epigenetics, being the mechanisms by which genes are activated and deactivated, is proving more and more to be a significant mechanism by which acquired traits are passed on from generation to generation. So, actually, it's also about the choices of our parents and grandparents, and the environmental conditions they grew up in, that can have huge effects on how our metabolisms operate, including insulin responses to blood sugar levels. Since you are stating opinions, keep your educational credentials out of it until you are prepared to back up your claims with research and science. Until then your comments only serve to fuel the backlash against scientific hubris, doing more harm than good.

  • Jane
    July 25, 2014 - 17:01

    Ugh. Seriously? You have just solved the obesity epidemic! If people stopped spending money on smokes, alcohol and take- out (because all fat people smoke, drink and eat take out OBVS!) and started just CHOOSING better foods then BAM! no more obesity. Kids - go do yourself a favor and read up on the social determinants of health. Maybe then you can better understand the COMPLEX nature of this health issue.

  • Sarah Moore
    July 25, 2014 - 13:58

    I'm sorry but I completely disagree with them that healthy foods are cheaper. As a grad student on a budget, on campus, I can buy a bag of chips and a coke for $3 or a Greek yogourt and a juice for $5. The math ain't hard. I find the authors to be insulting. I have never had a cigarette in my life and I don't drink. T hese students are making dangerous, broadly-sweeping statements based on their own bias and opinion that fat people are bad who make bad decisions and have poor judgment.

  • Matthew Middleton
    July 25, 2014 - 13:52

    Simply telling people to "eat healthy food" is not only simplistic, it could actually be considered by some to be harmful. The reality is, junk food is often cheaper than healthy food. This seems counterintuitive, until you consider the fact that the companies that produce the junk food make things mostly out of soy, corn, etc. These crops are heavily subsidized by the government, especially in the USA (they don't call them "Cash Crops" for nothing). Incidentally, as "students", I would hope that you have actual evidence to back up the massively sweeping statement "Too much money is being wasted on alcohol, cigarettes, soft drinks and eating out."