Is The Economy Making You Fat?
When 31-year-old Stephanie Keaton couldn't find a job last winter, she didn't freak out--not visibly, at least. But as the months went on and she remained unemployed, the registered nurse, who lives in Queens, N.Y., found herself heading to the fridge each time she thought about her bleak financial situation
"Several of my clients have confessed they're binging because they're stressed about money. It's a quick pick-me-up, but the end result is weight gain," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., a dietitian in private practice in New York City.
But reaching for something healthy may be easier said than done. Sociologists, food policy experts and economists have long noted that in most areas of the country, processed food such as candy bars, microwave burritos and ramen noodles is often cheaper than healthy fare. In fact, some fast-food restaurants, like McDonald's, have actually come out ahead in the downturn.
Let's face it," says Zuckerbrot, "a box of mac and cheese will set you back a lot less than fresh fruit and vegetables. And when you go to a burger joint, a salad with grilled chicken costs twice as much as a value meal."