Walmart, Poverty, and BMI

Truthout published an op-ed called Walmart Is Not The Bargain You Might Think. (I’m not a regular reader of theirs, but I occasionally read things by them.) It has some interesting I-knew-they-were-rich-but… facts–for example, “The six heirs of Sam Walton have more money than the bottom 41.5 percent – or 48.8 million families – of all Americans, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data.”

The op-ed argues that while Walmart has cheap prices, it leaves communities worse off economically:

Stacy Mitchell wrote in Grist in December 2011, pointing to a study in Social Science Quarterly that showed that neighborhoods where a Walmart store opens have more poverty and food-stamp usage than communities without a Walmart. This might have something to do with Walmart’s record of putting other employers out of business – and more people out of work.

And then they talk about the effect on BMIs as though it’s a separate issue:

If that’s not bad enough, another recent study concluded that Walmart makes us fat. “An additional supercenter per 100,000 residents increases … the obesity rate by 2.3 percentage points. … These results imply that the proliferation of Walmart supercenters explains 10.5 percent of the rise in obesity since the late 1980s.”

It seems likely to me that the primary way in which Walmart increases local BMI is by increasing poverty. Our phenotypes (bodies) are influenced by both genes and environment, and in an environment of poverty a lot of people end up with a higher BMI than they otherwise would. (The “if that’s not bad enough” phrasing makes it sound like they may think that an increase in BMIs>30 of 2.3% is worse than higher poverty and food-stamp usage.)


Walmart and fast food chains, with their low prices, convenience and addictive high-fat, high-sugar content, are really just a part of a much bigger picture

I can’t muster much more than an eyeroll and a link to a Fat Nutritionist post for this line.

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One Response to Walmart, Poverty, and BMI

  1. Pingback: Things I’m reading | Living ~400lbs

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