a diversityinc investigative report
The problem with this snapshot: Fast-food companies
actively target Black and Latino communities, and therefore, the majority of people eating all that ubiquitous,
processed, ready-made fast food are Blacks and Latinos.
And because fast foods are rich in saturated fats, trans
fats, simple carbohydrates and sodium—all of which are
nutrients associated with hypertension, cardiovascular
disease and Type 2 diabetes—Blacks and Latinos develop
more of these obesity-related diseases than whites.
“The prevalence of fast food in low-income urban
neighborhoods across the United States, combined with
the lack of access to fresh, healthy food, contribute to an
overwhelmingly disproportionate incidence of food-
related death and disease among [Blacks and Latinos] as
compared to whites,” writes attorney Andrea Freeman
in the California Law Review article, “Fast Food:
Oppression Through Poor Nutrition.”
Indeed, the two plaintiffs in the Pelman lawsuit—the
case that inspired Spurlock to ultimately embark on his
film—were Black and lived in the Bronx. At the time the
suit was brought in August 2002, Ashley Pelman was 14
years old, 4-feet-10-inches tall and weighed 170 pounds.
Her 19-year-old sister Jazlen Bradley was 5-feet-6-inch-
es tall and 270 pounds.
“If Spurlock had taken his camera to the Bronx, he
would likely have seen a higher percentage of over-
weight and obese people, particularly women, than
he captured on the streets of Manhattan, where his
office and apartment are located, given the incidence
of obesity and overweight among the racial and ethnic
minorities who comprise the majority of the population
of the Bronx,” Austin says.
According to John Robbins, author of “The Food
HYPERTENSION (HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE) RATE
Blacks vs. whites 40% greater
Latinas vs. white women
Latino men vs. white men
Black men vs. white men
By focusing on portly white patrons in upstate New
York and mostly white sunbathers at the public beach
on Coney Island, Spurlock ignored a very obvious and
tragic point: The geography of obesity and disease in
this country is largely the geography of poverty and race
in America. And the fast-food industry plays a pivotal
role in drawing this map and driving the epidemic of
obesity and diet-related disease.
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