For those who wonder why we have an obesity problem in the U.S., this chart from I found on the Economix blog explains a lot
Unhealthy foods are becoming cheaper, while healthy foods are getting more expensive. This chart at Lapham's Quarterly
illustrates the stark difference in calories purchased for a dollar:
While people point to lifestyle issues, like the number of hours we spend in front of screens, as the cause of rising obesity, it may not be a matter of personal character, but of economically rational behavior on the part of consumers. Whether this represents rational behavior on the part of policy makers is another matter. This chart from the Consumerist
, which uses the old food pyramid, provides a clear illustration of how badly skewed our food subsidies are:
I find it particularly distressing that some see obesity among the poor as evidence of their character shortcomings. Given the distorted economics of food in this country, they may be acting rationally in economic terms by buying the most calories for the dollar, even though their purchasing patterns don't optimize long term well being.