The lack of access to healthy foods causes disparate rates of obesity and associated health problems in communities characterized by low socioeconomic status (Annotated bibliography – ISS4304-0004)


The lack of access to healthy foods causes disparate rates of obesity and associated health problems in communities characterized by low socioeconomic status (Annotated bibliography – ISS4304-0004)

Problem statement

The lack of access to healthy foods causes disparate rates of obesity and associated health problems in communities characterized by low socioeconomic status.

Article 1:

Ciciurkaite, G., & Perry, B. L. (2018). Body weight, perceived weight stigma and mental health among women at the intersection of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status: Insights from the modified labelling approach. Sociology of health & illness, 40(1), 18-37.

This article addresses the psychological problem around body weight stigma and weight-based discrimination among women. The focus is the interplay with race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The authors theorize that difference in psychological distress from weight stigma and discrimination can be related to availability of coping resources, and racial influences on body type perceptions and accommodations. Variables in the study include psychological well-being (measured by Mental Health Component of the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12), body mass index (BMI), and demographic factors. Demographic variables measured include age, gender, household income, marital status, and highest grade of school. A sample of 2,203 – restricted to women – was taken from the data in National Health Measurement Study (NHMS), a database with health-related quality of life information.

The findings of the study were that weight-based discrimination has an effect on psychological well-being of women but this is dependent on social status. Hispanic women and women with low income had greater distress compared to White women and women with high income. I believe this article contains an important sociological perspective of low-income communities, health problems (such as psychological distress) and obesity. The interplay between low income, health problems and obesity, all which are part of the problem statement in the paper, can be justified (contextualized) through this article hence a sociological view.

Article 2:

Lippert, A. M. (2016). Stuck in unhealthy places: How entering, exiting, and remaining in poor and nonpoor neighborhoods is associated with obesity during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 57(1), 1-21.

            The social issue addressed by this article is that of obesity risk in the transition to adulthood period due to living in poor neighborhoods. The article also looks at the entry, exit and remaining in poor and nonpoor neighborhoods and how this affects obesity risk. The research asks five questions including (1) How is living in poor neighborhood associated with being or remaining obese during transition to adulthood (2) do those who remain in poor neighborhoods have varying risk of obesity compared to those who remain in poor or nonpoor neighborhoods? (3) does gender affect the variations (4) how do healthy behaviors explain poverty expose and obesity in men and women (5) do neighborhood poverty entries impact obesity into adulthood? The major concepts are obesity, neighborhood poverty, and transition into adulthood. The data used in the study is quantitative and was obtained from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and the U.S. census. Regression analyses were used to establish patterns and trends in the data.

The findings show that those who live in poor neighborhoods are prone to higher risk of obesity than those who do not live in such areas. Also, those who exit poor neighborhoods escape such risk while those entering the poor neighborhoods experience higher risk. Women were found at greater risk than men. This article presents a view that mirrors the social problem being investigated in this bibliography. This is because the bibliography looks into the access of healthy and how this related to obesity in low income neighborhoods. The interplay of social variables being investigated by Lippert (2016) can inform the understanding of low income communities and how they may lack access to resources to curb obesity.

Article 3:

Powell, D. (2018). Governing the (un) healthy child-consumer in the age of the childhood obesity crisis. Sport, Education and society, 23(4), 297-310.

            The author focuses on the social issue of food and drink corporations that, although contributing to the obesity problem, position themselves as ‘part of the solution’ through funding, devising, producing, and distributing programmes to schools. The theoretical stance is that corporations with the ‘will to govern’ had intentions that were to happen in schools. The investigation is on how technologies on consumption (turning children into marketers, product placement, and sponsorships) turn students into life-long customers of the brands. The major concepts of the study are childhood obesity, Foucalt’s governmentality concept, technologies of consumption, and the food and drink industry. The author used an ethnographic approach which entailed collection of data from 3 schools in New Zealand.

The findings of the study was that although not out of naivety, students and teachers saw product placement, marketing, and sponsorships as normal, necessary, natural, and mainly harmless. This article presents a sociological perspective of the construction of governance as it related to marketing unhealthy products in society. It presents a view that such influence is not only due to actions of organisations but also schools (children and teachers). In relation to the problem statement in this bibliography, the article by Powell (2018) offers critical insight on how governance can be used by institutions in power (especially those suffering from consumption anxiety due to their unhealthy products) to guide individuals of less powerful stances (such as children) towards being life-long consumers.

Article 4:

Wen, M., & Kowaleski-Jones, L. (2012). The built environment and risk of obesity in the United States: Racial–ethnic disparities. Health & place, 18(6), 1314-1322.

            This article addresses the social problem of how neighborhoods are built (walkability, density etc.) and how this can be associated with obesity risk and race-ethnic disparities in obesity differences. The research tested the evidence of obesity disparities between whites, blacks, Hispanics, and others. It also tested influence of neighborhood built on obesity differences (factoring in neighborhood ethnic compositions). The major concepts include obesity disparities which are differences in obesity rates, neighborhood built which includes density, walkability, and distance to parks, and race-ethnic factors. The data used in the study was obtained from the National Health Nutrition Examination Survey and 2000 census and GIS-based databases. The data used is quantitative in nature and through regression analyses, the authors tested relationships between the different variables.

The findings indicated that built environment is a predictor of obesity risk but it does not get significantly influence by race-ethnic compositions. Further, gender differences were found to affect how built environment affected obesity risk with white women having advantage of built environment. Household income was negatively related to obesity risk. The article thus presents a unique sociological perspective relevant to the problem statement in this bibliography. This is because it associates lack of access (such as to parks) with obesity risk in low income communities and also factors in race and gender differences. This is relevant as it can be compared to lack of access to healthy foods.

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