Food Choice and Income

In an interesting inversion of a problem seen here in the US, it appears that Chinese children that come from wealthy families are more likely to suffer from bad eating habits.

A Chinese study has found that children from wealthy families are more likely to suffer bad nutrition than those from low-income homes, partly because they eat more fast food, state media said on Friday.

"Children from high-income families are inclined to eat more fast food because the pace of life of their parents is rapid and they ignore a balanced diet," the Beijing Evening Post said.

In the US, choosing a healthier, less processed-food-rich diet is actually a more expensive option than loading up on processed goodies that come at a relatively cheap price. Not so, apparently, in China where fast food buying is a sign of affluence, and more vegetable-based diets are prominent for lower income groups as a result of an economy still heavily agrarian. Both places, of course, still seem to place the value of their time on the top of preference lists; for China, "pace of life" demands faster food, and in the US time spent attempting to prepare healthy, yet inexpensive, meals for a family possibly means time away from the more fiscally rewarding hourly-wage job.

In an interesting policy suggestion, one expert made this comment:

"As to the food mix and eating habits, rich families should follow the example set by low-income families," an expert was quoted as saying.

Well, I suppose that's one way to look at it. Of course, one might want to also consider that some of those lower-income groups may have children that don't eat as regularly as the higher-income children, or have options from a highly constrained menu. In other words, how "low income" were they?

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This page contains a single entry by published on January 7, 2005 3:04 PM.

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