Hunger, Obesity, and Health
Obesity is a major public health problem in the U.S. Overweight and obesity are associated with a number of serious physiological conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. People who struggle with overweight and obesity may face serious psychological and social consequences as well.
While all segments of the population are affected, low-income and food insecure people are especially vulnerable due to the additional risk factors associated with poverty, including limited resources, limited access to healthy and affordable foods, and limited opportunities for physical activity.
To learn more about the complex relationship between hunger, poverty, and obesity, visit the Fighting Obesity and Hunger section of the Food Research and Action Center's website.
Challenges Related to Healthy Eating for Low-Income Individuals
- Affordability - Food prices are on the rise, and too often nutrient-poor, calorie-dense foods are more affordable in low-income communities. Households with limited resources may try to stretch their food budgets by purchasing cheap, calorie-dense foods that are filling.
- Accessibility - Many low-income neighborhoods do not have full-service grocery stores – meaning that access to a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products is limited. Residents – especially those without reliable and affordable transportation – may be limited to shopping at small neighborhood convenience stores, where such items are limited, if available at all, and often higher in price.
Programs like the Food Supplement Program provide greatly needed assistance to families that are struggling to pay for food, but many still find it challenging to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy.
Maryland Hunger Solutions Can Help By:
- Providing materials, training, or staff to supplement nutrition education activities with Food Supplement Program outreach.
- Helping to maximize the grocery budgets of low-income Marylanders by increasing participation in the federal nutrition programs.
- Advocating for increased federal nutrition program benefits and greater access to food support.
Download our resources on healthy, affordable eating:
- Healthy Eating on a Budget (pdf)
- Healthy Eating for Older Adults (pdf)
- $16 Grocery Lists and Recipies (pdf)
Additional resources on planning and preparing healthy, low-cost meals:
Provides tips on planning, purchasing, and preparing meals, as well as a sample weekly menu that meets nutritional requirements at a reasonable cost.
Features strategies for incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet without spending too much. These tip sheets on 30 Ways in 30 Days to Stretch Your Fruit & Vegetable Budget (pdf) and Shopping for Fruits and Vegetables (pdf) may be especially useful.
University of Maryland Extension's Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland
Provides Marylanders with tips and information to help them eat smarter, be more active, and live healthier lives.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food, Nutrition & Health
Offers ideas on meal planning and shopping, and provides information on cooking tools, techniques, and ingredient substitutions. Check out the list of recipes, including a section devoted to recipes that can be made with, by, and for kids.
Iowa State University Extension’s Spend Smart, Eat Smart
Includes information and advice for planning meals, shopping for ingredients, and saving time in the kitchen. View sample grocery list templates, learn how to create a price book to track costs of the items you buy most often, and get tips on organizing your kitchen to save time when you cook.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Offers tips for eating right affordably, saving money at the grocery store, and shopping seasonally at local farmers’ markets.
Provides a variety of interactive menu planning tools and resources as well as meal ideas and recipes. Those who register (for free) with the site can select several recipes from the site and generate a complete editable shopping list from their meal plan.
Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters and Shopping Matters
Through their Cooking Matters program, Share Our Strength partners with community-based organizations to facilitate workshops and classes designed to teach people how to prepare healthy meals. They have also developed a new program called Shopping Matters to help families make healthy and affordable choices at the supermarket.
This new initiative led by First Lady Katie O’Malley and the State of Maryland promotes fun and healthy eating by providing families with monthly recipes featuring Maryland ingredients via text messages.