A new report ranks Lucas County as one of the unhealthiest counties in the state — 68th out of 88.
The commissioner of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, Dr. David Grossman, blames fast-food. Poverty also plays its part.
Almost one in five county residents — 85,000 people, many of them children — do not get the nutrition they need. Across the state, more than one of every five Ohioans cannot feed themselves without government or charitable aid.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but the truth is that hunger and obesity go hand in hand. Poor people often can’t afford healthy food. They may consume many calories, but empty ones.
Poor people can’t afford to drive to where good food is; they may not have cars, and must depend on buses or their feet. At the grocery or convenience stores available to them, food may be both unhealthy and relatively expensive. Or they rely on cheap fast-food.
Overweight and hungry is a problem of urban America. It is producing heart disease and fat, sick kids.
Public education can help, but most poor people know it would be better to eat better. School lunch, breakfast, and even supper programs need to be supported and expanded.
Public pressure on fast-food companies and supermarket chains also can help. You can look at New York City’s crusade against super-sized sodas as Big Brotherism. But another way to look at it is as protection of children’s health.
Studies show that hunger goes with poverty and healthy eating with wealth. Poor people know how they feel when they eat bad stuff or feed it to their kids. What they need most are work and opportunity. With these things, better eating and better health will follow.