Daily Archives: July 21, 2009

Short end of the life-expectancy stick

There’s nothing the least bit hifalutin, elitist, or self-congratulatory in Megan Nix’s Denver Post story “The High Cost of Cheap Food“, just the sad recognition that the poor of America — a rapidly growing demographic, by the way — are facing lives that increasing fit Hobbes’ description of “nasty, brutish and short“. Thanks to Salt Spring News for bringing this story to our attention:

As they say in the movie Supersize Me, in America we have the biggest of everything, including the biggest people!

As they say in "Supersize Me", America has the biggest of everything, including... the biggest people!

“I used to find Flaming Hot Cheetos, bagged pickles, and the occasional plate of fried chicken in my classroom when I taught Senior English in Louisiana.

I allowed some of my students to eat at their desks after lunch. I had to; there were three pregnant seniors in my fourth period.

Shayna, who was in her third trimester during her last semester of high school, mostly snacked on packets of those horribly orange peanut butter crackers. Over half of my class was obese. After pizza or macaroni or hamburgers from the cafeteria, they’d fall asleep against their will, come to, apologize, then nod off again.

My students were kids who carried iPhones and wore brand-name shoes. Eighty percent were black, 98 percent were low-income. They’d been raised to look as good as they could, but eat as cheaply as possible.

For awhile, you can ignore poverty in schools, outbreaks of cookie dough E. coli, and the fact that 27 percent of our country’s children are obese. But they’re all connected — and these layers of bad news will eventually weigh one down.

I found this statistic a little harder to overlook: For the first time in 200 years, today’s children have a lower life expectancy than their parents. Continue reading

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