Poor people tend to be fatter than the middle class or upper class. It's a well-studied phenomena; probably should be called "The Mississippi Effect." The reasons are fairly easy to enumerate: less access to lower-priced healthy options, an over-reliance on foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value...and frequent fast food consumption.
For poor people, their options for buying groceries are limited to smaller stores or convenience marts where food prices are often substantially higher. And even when they can buy groceries at large supermarkets, the limited income reduces their options. As I read in a recent article, a woman said "Yes, I know milk is better for my kids, but a gallon costs $3 and I can get 3 gallons of soft drink for the same price. You do the math."
Poverty, in its absolute or relative form, forces a person to seek comfort in aspects of survival, whether the expression is escape, sex or food. Fast food, high in fat, salt and calories, is made to appeal to the baser side of a person's appetite. It's success is based on being so tasty you want it again, no matter that its nutritional components can destabilize your body towards obesity.
Now take poverty and food program support to help those in poverty and watch as The Fools here on My Island make a blatantly crass appeal for votes by opening up the "food stamp" program to buying fast food. Uh-huh, your government dollars are now going to McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell and further points south of healthy eating. This at a time when the incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both strongly linked to diet and nutrition, are on the rise in Puerto Rico.
Okay, maybe the Fools are trying to kill poor people. Wouldn't be the first time. Or maybe in their nano-sized peabrains they believe that by allowing federal funds to be spent in fast food nation they will (a) make poor people happier, (b) get them to eat better or (c) stimulate the economy. All three are bogus, but the Fools are synonymous with bogus.
The bottom line is clear: a program aimed at supplementing poor nutrition to preserve health is now a bandwagon politicians and freeloaders can use to super-size their chow. Puerto Rico has got to be the most bass-ackwards nation on Earth, canceling chess in schools because it's too passive while flinging federal funds around to promote fast food excesses.
Hopefully that waist-expanding largesse will be struck down, just as the chess idiocy was overturned. But if it isn't, if Our poor are going to line up more often to order combos with nonchalant agrándalo glee, then I hope We make it the last of the mega-stupid ideas.
Yeah, like that's going to happen.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
[Update: 7 Oct 2010: New York seeks to ban the use of food stamps to purchase of sugar-sweetened drinks. Make up your own joke at Our expense.]