Trying to find a produce store or a large grocer in an economically depressed neighborhood in Sacramento is about as easy as finding an apple in a candy store. Lack of access to good nutrition impacts racial and ethnic minorities and recent immigrants disproportionately. If Sacramentans can't grow their own food in public urban gardens, where can they go to afford fresh organic produce for better holistic health?
A lot of people would love organic produce, but can't afford to shop in the some of the food stores that sell them in Sacramento. "Only yuppies shop there," says one middle-aged blue-collar technician (about a food market selling organic produce). He's used to shopping at discount food stores for the lowest-cost produce he can buy in his neighborhood. Major food supermarkets are visibly absent from some lower-socio-economic neighborhoods.
Missing food markets might be contributing toward the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children
And a new study says the missing food markets might be contributing toward the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in kids. But various economically-depressed areas also have ethnic food markets that serve the various communities looking for familiar food items. Unfortunately, in Sacramento, liquor and tobacco stores often take the place of supermarkets. And instead of large food markets, there are smaller convenience stores selling impulse-buying foods such as candies and cookies or chips, soda, and other processed packaged foods.
Poor nutrition combined with higher stress can contribute to other health problems, including type 2 diabetes, according to a new University of Michigan study published in the Journal of Obesity and also discussed in the August 26, 2013 news release, "Adapting to mainstream lowers diabetes risk in African-Americans."
Food is marketed differently to rich and poor neighborhoods in the USA
According to the article, "The Neglected Link Between Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity in Poor Neighborhoods," research on healthy food availability and affordability has rarely addressed the effects of food marketing on children—especially children in low-income neighborhoods in Sacramento as well as in other cities.
A number of studies summarized in a 2005 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM)—Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity—do document how food is marketed differently to rich and poor neighborhoods in the United States. But while the IOM report finds that "the food environment in poorer neighborhoods makes it difficult for residents to eat healthful foods away from home," it does not highlight this conclusion in its summary findings, mainly because these studies did not focus on children, the article explains. Now a new study links poor nutrition and high stress to other health issues, including type 2 diabetes.
Cultural and economic influences on type 2 diabetes and obesity in minority children and teenagers
The latest study, "Sociocultural and socioeconomic influences on type 2 diabetes risk in overweight/obese African-American and Latino-American children and adolescents," appears in the Journal of Obesity. The new University of Michigan study may help explain how to cope with this stress and perhaps curb some of these health problems.
Rebecca Hasson, assistant professor at the University of Michigan schools of Kinesiology and Public Health, found that overweight and obese African-American children and teens who successfully adapt to mainstream American culture—while maintaining strong ties with their own—could reduce stress and stress eating. In turn, this could reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes
Immigration literature shows that successfully adapting to different cultures in a society, while maintaining one's own cultural identity, reduces stress. Since cultural and social environments influence stress-eating behavior, Hasson's findings could provide a valuable tool to change unhealthy eating behaviors linked to obesity and diabetes in ethnic minority youth.
The study also found that Latino adolescents of higher socioeconomic status showed increased diabetes risk, which means they didn't appear to benefit from the protection against diabetes that higher social and economic status affords.
Researchers cannot fully explain this finding, but again, it may be stress-related
Hasson said Latinos could suffer increased psychological stress associated with racial discrimination and social isolation if they live in predominantly white areas. Another possibility is that longer time in the U.S. is associated with poorer health outcomes for recent immigrants.
Pediatric obesity in the U.S. has more than tripled in the last 30 years, particularly among Latinos and African-Americans, said Hasson, who also heads U-M's Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory. This disparity is partially due to greater exposure to psychological stress, which leads to cortisol production and potential stress eating.
Link between chronic stress, stress eating, and obesity
Hasson's current project investigates the link between chronic stress, stress eating and obesity in Latino, African-American and non-Latino white adolescents. The study, "Sociocultural and socioeconomic influences on type 2 diabetes risk in overweight/obese African-American and Latino-American children and adolescents," appears in the Journal of Obesity. For more information, check out the Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory, the School of Kinesiology, or the School of Public Health.
You may wish to check out another study on whether spouses influence one another's eating behavior, "Examining a Ripple Effect: Do Spouses’ Behavior Changes Predict Each Other’s Weight Loss?"