These days, when people think about malnutrition, they just think about the starving children in Ethiopia. The definition of malnutrition in Merriam-Webster is “faulty nutrition due to inadequate or unbalanced intake of nutrients or their impaired assimilation or utilization.”
Even in the richest countries like America, malnutrition is still a common problem among lower income people. According to Feeding America “It seems impossible, but in lands of plenty, hunger pains can be the sharpest.” (Hunger runs deep). Therefore, eating healthy food is necessary for poor people. It’s important to consider malnutrition education because the government is not doing enough to educate lower income people about food malnutrition.
Education is important because malnutrition will cause some serious health issues. In the article, “Montgomery officials try eating for $5 a day” the author Bill Turque wrote about government officials who tried to experience using just $5 to buy food “…as a way of highlighting hunger issues and helping them understand what economically pressed constituents face.” (Turque, par. 8).
It’s incredible because five dollars is not enough for a meal. For example, the cheapest burger in McDonald is $1 without tax and a bag of potatoes is $3.50. However, it can’t support one person’s daily life because they need more nutrition to get into their bodies. Moreover, even if the government offers more food stamps or money for these people, they might still eat unnutritious
food because they don’t know how low-quality food will affect their health problems. Therefore, the government should focus on educating the concepts and disadvantages of malnutrition for low income people. For example, the officials can give free lectures on the effects of malnutrition in poor communities or they can watch a documentary about the poor in other communities. These are effective ways for people to learn about this problem. Furthermore, it’s a serious social problem caused by food because it has threatened people’s lives.
Even though some poor people already know the dangers of malnutrition, they have no choice because of money or regional restrictions. Getting low-quality food or junk food is more convenient because it’s too far to get fresh or healthy food. The author Jennifer Wehunt mentions “…residents living in majority African American blocks travel the farthest on average to reach any type of grocery store—0.59 miles.” (Wehunt, par 4).
Since Wehunt uses accurate numbers to explain why these people can only eat unhealthy food, this information becomes more convincing. Wehunt also mentions, “Diet has a direct link to obesity, diabetes and other diseases, and you can’t choose a healthy diet if you don’t have access to it.” (Wehunt, par. 6). Obviously, bad diet habits due to not being able to buy healthy food will affect people’s health, especially for children who are growing up. Unfortunately, many residents in poor areas do not realize what a food desert is or that they are living in one.
As a result, they may continue to live in these situations for their whole lives and continue to eat poorly and suffer from malnutrition. To illustrate the problem of malnutrition in American cities, imagine a typical low-income family’s daily life. When parents go out for their jobs, their children might eat frozen pizza or fried chicken from Costco because they don’t have too much choice. They may eat the cheapest and least nutritious food to support them throughout the day. Most parents from low-income family don’t earn much money, so they may buy cheap and low quality food .
Although these problems regarding education and malnutrition are serious, there are some potential actions that can be taken. Wehunt suggests an effective way to solve this problem which is “All over the city, in a move reminiscent of the “victory gardens” of World War II, industrious citizens are putting spare land to use, planting strawberries and tomatoes in backyards and side lots.” (Wehunt, par.16).
It’s definitely a great way to get fresh food for people who live in poor areas. The government can offer planting classes in communities for people and teach them how to plant fruits and vegetables. In school the government can also teach teenagers planting skills to help their parents grow their own land or garden.
Also, the government can provide cooking classes for these people because when they know how to cook food, they might not buy junk food. People can save money and eat healthily by these two ways. However, Turque doesn’t suggest effective potential actions, he says “Other county officials and community leaders agreed to spend just $25 on food for the next five days, an attempt to simulate the everyday fact of life for residents enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once known as food stamps.”
The actions are more like a show to people and try to let people know the government official really care about poor people because they experience living on $5 for a day. It’s not an effective way to solve poor people’s situation because the government just gives money rather than teaching them how to use money to buy fresh food. If the officials help them identify cheap and healthy food, it is more effective, and they can buy cheap but healthy food.
In conclusion, educating poor people suffering from malnutrition are very necessary for the government. On the one hand, many poor people don’t know the bad effects of malnutrition. For example, it will cause a lot of diseases or they may even die. Therefore, the government has a duty to teach them the importance of changing their diet. On the other hand, some low-income people might realize their diet habits are bad, however, they are subject to economic or local restriction problems. As a result, the government should do somethings to help these people get rid of malnutrition.
For instance, the government can teach them how important diet is, at the same time, if it’s possible, pay more money as much as they can. Moreover, the government in poor areas must develop policies to attract some grocery stores or markets to invest and build in those poor areas. Malnutrition is an urgent problem for the government because there are still many low-income people suffering from it.