New Delhi, January 10 (ANI): American health experts are worried that people may gain weight despite reducing the amount of money they spend on food in response to the global economic crisis, as numerous studies have linked obesity and unhealthy eating habits to low incomes.
The experts say that reducing food spending would mean that people cut back on healthy items like fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains in favour of cheaper options that are high in sugar and saturated fats, reports China View.
"People are going to economize and as they save money on food they will be eating more empty calories or foods high in sugar, saturated fats and refined grains, which are cheaper. Obesity is a toxic result of a failing economic environment," said Adam Drewnowski, director of the Nutrition Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Drewnowski revealed that he and his colleagues also established that the link between income and obesity in one of their studies.
"In Seattle we have found that there are fivefold differences in obesity rates depending on the zip code -- the low-income zip codes have a much higher proportion of obese people," he said.
He said that studies conducted in California showed that a 10 per cent rise in poverty translated into a six per cent increase in obesity among adults.
According to US health officials, the rate of new cases of diabetes soared by about 90 per cent in the country in the past decade, fueled by growing obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that over one third of US adults, more than 72 million people, and 16 percent of US children are obese.
The unfolding recession may inflate US waistlines further as more and more people fall on hard times and seek cheaper food.
Drewnowski insisted that it was possible to eat in an affordable and healthy way, partly by relying on the basic foods that saw America through the Depression of the 1930s.
"The answer lies in affordable but nutrient-rich foods such as ground beef, beans, milk, nuts, cheese, carrots, potatoes, canned tomatoes, soups and rice," he said, calling it "a diet for a new Depression." (ANI)