In the News: Poverty Causes Death

I happened to catch on the news last night a 5-second report about a Scottish health study. This soundbyte reported the results of the study as showing that “a higher IQ means better health” though “the most important factor in health was still socioeconomic status.” Turns out, based on an article from Fox News, that the study was actually ABOUT the impact of socioeconomic factors on health (leave it to folks in the UK to begin with a complicated analysis, instead of network news’ inane “want to be healthy? get smarter!” angle) and yep, no surprise, “the most disadvantaged participants were the most likely to die or develop a long-term illness” over the 16-year course of the study.

This tidbit becomes even more interesting in the context of another story, reporting that although poor people have been historically more likely to be fat, rates of “obesity” [sic] are actually evening out across classes and richer people are catching up fast. So if rich people are just as fat as poor people, but poor people are still dying sooner, death must be caused by poverty! Eureka!

I now expect fat-bashers to turn their considerable energy and health-crazed hostility onto the poor. That’s right! When you see a homeless person on the street, go right up and say, “What are you doing? Don’t you know that being poor will KILL YOU? Why don’t you do something about yourself?” I anticipate many smug libertarian blog entries about the author’s self-righteous efforts to remain wealthy, all in the name of good health. And I expect anti-fat researchers to immediately turn their attention to identifying and eradicating the poverty virus and developing new medications and procedures to help those poor poor people–the anti-poverty pill! (May cause anal leakage.) The poor-ectomy–they can cut your poverty right off! Poorosuction, where they suck the poverty out from under your skin! Pooroplasty, where a row of staples reduces your wallet size by two-thirds and keeps you from overspending! Povertobanding, where they wrap up your poverty in a big rubber band! Personal trainers will become life coaches, using Rich Dad, Poor Dad and to help the poor transform their low-income-related health problems. And I have no doubt the diet industry will jump on the bandwagon, coming up with instantly effective new products targeting this newly discovered scourge of ill health in the population–The New Weight Watchers Anti-Poverty Diet! Because you can never be too rich or too thin!

But wait, what’s that you say? No one makes money from trying to get rid of poverty? Hmmm. Well, that should make very obvious the real interests of those who love to tell us fat folks how we’re killing ourselves.


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