Overweight Homeless

Malnutrition continues to be a problem for people living without stable homes, but it is beginning to be accompanied by obesity.

By | June 6, 2012


Obesity may be the new face of malnutrition in the United States. Out of a pool of more than 5,600 homeless people seen by doctors in the Boston area between 2007 and 2008, 60 percent were overweight or obese, according to a study published in the Journal of Urban Health. Only 1.6 percent of those seen were underweight.

While malnutrition has been linked to obesity before in what’s called the hunger-obesity paradox, whether that extended to the poorest in our society was unknown. “You can buy calories very cheaply, but it’s hard to buy nutrition cheaply,” Andrew Rundle, a Columbia University obesity researcher told Wired Science.

If obesity, and the metabolic diseases that come with it, such as diabetes, continue to rise in the 3 million US homeless, it could present new challenges for society.  For example, needles required for insulin replacement treatments are not allowed in homeless shelters. “This is going to be a national issue,” the study’s co-author Jim O’Connell, also president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, told Wired.

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Avatar of: miriamgordon


Posts: 1457

June 6, 2012

This really saddens me terribly. When I read this, the first thing I thought of is the prejudice that obese people face in the workplace. Obese people are much less likely to get hired, even if they are well qualified, than thin people. See the Yale Rudd Center on Obesity Policy for more information.

Obese people are less likely to go to the doctor before it's too late 1. because it's harder for them to get jobs and therefore health insurance, 2. they're sick of doctors telling them that the cure for all their ailments is to lose weight. If you're really familiar with the science of obesity, you'll realize that the picture is far less cut and dried than it is in popular culture. See Gary Taubes' work and University of California's YouTube channel and search for "obesity." Not all fat people are nearly as unhealthy as we imagine them to be. This is not to say that obesity is not associated with many serious illnesses, there's just a lot of grey rather than black and white with respect to this topic.

Thank you for this worthwhile piece and bringing attention to the needs of these unfortunate people.

Avatar of: glenn398


Posts: 15

June 6, 2012

Same problem for homeless as working people too much sitting around and very little exercise. Besides that a great percentage are alcoholics and there is a lot of empty calories in alcohol.  

Avatar of: Franco G

Franco G

Posts: 1457

June 11, 2012

 Well, obese people sure have more problems than thin people, because they are unhealthy, being obese is bad, wether you try to sugar coat it or not.
The holy solution, as you say, is not losing weight, but rather organizing their lives in a logical and planning fashion (e.g. I have no money, therefore I won't eat at McDonalds).

In conclusion, the problem is not a vicious cycle, it has a solution, but most people aren't willing to see it.

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