We all see how our society is defined by ‘social class’ – the division of members of a society into a hierarchy of distinct status classes (Algie 2014). You may belong to the upper class, working class or even the lower class depending on your individual socioeconomic status. You may not realise it but our classification into a particular social class may have a direct impact on our eating and dietary habits.
As the number of social classes can vary due to different types of classification systems, for this blog we are sticking to lower class which we will simply define as ‘lower-income’ individuals. But anyway back to the impact social class has on our eating and dietary habits…
Lower-income neighborhoods frequently lack full-service grocery stores and farmers’ markets where residents can buy a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products (cited in the Food Research and Action Center website 2013). This shows that lower class people are unlikely to have a significant opportunity to purchase healthy and/or essential foods.
But lower-income communities have a greater availability of fast food restaurants, especially near schools (cited in the Food Research and Action Center website 2013). This is especially concerning as the fast food restaurants take advantage of the lower class through their pricing (i.e. they are inexpensive). Also, children are more likely to enjoy fast food as it is simpler to eat and placing these fast food restaurants near schools also takes advantage of this. It doesn’t really help much with the fight to lower childhood obesity.
And lastly, lower-income youth and adults are exposed to disproportionately more marketing and advertising for obesity-promoting products that encourage the consumption of unhealthful foods and discourage physical activity (cited in the Food Research and Action Center website 2013).
Even though the sourced information in this blog is from the United States of America, as you can see, if you are from the lower class, you are more likely to come into contact with marketing of some form that communicates fast food/unhealthy products. This, in turn, influences our consumer behaviour due to the factors of being a part of the lower class i.e. lower income, housing affordability (and hence location of residence) etc. leading to lower class people being more likely to buy fast food/unhealthy products than upper class people. It simply is all class…
Algie, L 2014, ‘Social Class Influences on CB’ PowerPoint slides, MARK217, University of Wollongong, viewed 22 May 2014.
2013, Why Low-Income and Food Insecure People are Vulnerable to Overweight and Obesity, Food Research and Action Center, viewed 27 May 2014, <http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/why-are-low-income-and-food-insecure-people-vulnerable-to-obesity/>.
Mark Lennihan 2009, Fastfood, image, Associated Press, viewed 27 May 2014, <http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2009/03/oxymoron-depart.html>.