How economic inequalities affect the American regime

Dr Priya Fielding-Singh.
Priya Fielding-Singh (Photo by Vero Kherian Photography)

As the United States tries to control and recover from the coronavirus pandemic, economic inequality remains a growing problem for Americans. This division is even worse for people of color. And nowhere does this play out with deeper implications than at the dinner table.

In her new book, “How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America,” Priya Fielding-Singh, Assistant Professor at the University of Utah, discusses how inequalities manifest themselves in the way people live. Americans eat and nutritional disparities along economic, racial, and ethnic lines.

“One thing I found was that the context in which mothers were raising their children had a very different impact on their ability to feed their children the way they wanted,” she told Kai Ryssdal of “Marketplace”.

Click on the audio player above to hear Ryssdal’s conversation with Fielding-Singh on food, family and economic inequality.

The following is an excerpt from his book.

Study after study has revealed nutritional inequalities by socioeconomic status and race and ethnicity in America. Improvements in diets over the past few decades have been largely concentrated among middle- and upper-income Americans. In particular, high-income Americans are now eating better than ever – swapping fruit juices for whole fruit more often, replacing refined grains with whole grains, and eating tons of nuts – while improvements among low-income Americans income were much more modest. Such dietary advances have also been based on racial motives; The diet of whites has steadily improved over time, while blacks and Mexican-Americans have not experienced the same upward trends. Such inequalities exist for both adults and children.

These nutritional disparities are alarming because of the importance of diet to our overall health and well-being. A poor diet causes more than half a million deaths per year and is linked to multiple chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Today, a unhealthy diet is the number one killer in the United States. What we eat has literally become a matter of life and death.

Because our diets have such profound implications, nutritional disparities help generate broader health disparities that disproportionately harm those already marginalized in American society – low-income communities and racial and ethnic groups.
ethnic minorities. Compared to high-income Americans, low-income Americans have higher rates of diet-related illnesses and shorter lifespans. They are also five times more likely to report poor or fair health. People of color also bear the disproportionate burden of food-related illnesses. Compared to whites, blacks, Latinxes, and American Indians have higher rates of chronic disease and fewer years of life. While the factors underlying socio-economic and racial health disparities are multifaceted and complex, nutritional inequalities help to perpetuate them over time and across generations.

From “How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality in America ”by Priya Fielding-Singh. Copyright © 2021 by Priya Fielding-Singh. Published by Little, Brown Spark, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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