Health: Dear Walmart: Make Healthy Choices At Least Easier To Reach

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation did a study in which they found that West Virginia had the highest per capita of diabetics of any state in the U.S.  This, of course, is no surprise due to the rates of obesity within the state.

Adult Obesity in West Virginia New Data

Current adult obesity rate (2016)  37.7%

Rank among states (2016)  1/51

Obesity rate by age (2016) 18-25 26.0% 26-44 38.2% 45-64 44.7% 65+ 32.4%

Obesity rate by race (2016) White 36.0% Black 44.6% Latino 37.7%

Obesity rate by gender (2012) Men 34.5% Women 33.1%

 Source: Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The State of Obesity 2017 [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: 2017.

My Dad, before his death, was both overweight and a Type 2 diabetic.  Prior to his open heart surgery, I took on the task of trying to reign in his diet (unsuccessfully).  We were instructed by his physicians to limit his salt and sugar intake.  I learned quickly that items low in sugar oftentimes would be high in sodium (and vice versa).  It is how we are trained (at least in WV) to consider a dish flavorful – whether it is sweet or if it has been salted.

You think to yourself – well, gosh darnit, there ARE healthy alternatives out there, even in West Virginia!

Well, there are – but are they (quite literally) within your reach?

Today, I encouraged my coworkers to bring in their favorite sugar-free or reduced sugar goodies.  This is to show others that low sugar can actually taste good.  I decided to make peanut butter cookies.  The recipe called for Sugar Free Cake Mix. I went to the local Walmart (because, quite frankly, it is the “only” place to shop on the WV side of the Ohio River in our area).  Making my way through the baking supplies, I struggled finding a sugar-free cake mix.  Then I found it, on the very bottom shelf, and only one flavor (thankfully, it was one I could use).   ((Side Note: Thank You Pillsbury for making a sugar-free option!))

I thought to myself, if someone was making the cake, as intended, would there be a sugar-free frosting?  Why yes, there is. Only, it was on the very tip-top shelf.  The only frosting and the only cake mix options on either extreme of the shelving unit.  I wanted to look at the frosting nutritional values and had to stand on the bottom shelf just to reach it.


Seriously?  Could they not at least have the only option for sugar-free cake next to the only option for sugar-free frosting?  AND – with all of the people who are wheelchair-dependant due to obesity-related knee, leg and back issues – you would think you would put those two items at mid-shelf level so they could reach them unassisted.

This is but one VERY SMALL example of how the deck is stacked against people in the states with (in addition to high obesity and diabetes levels) significant poverty levels.  Being obese, being Type 2 because of being obese – there is a lot of money to be made in the medical field because of one or both of those issues.  I do not think that making healthy choices “unreachable” is a coincidence, but I am no expert.

And before you call down to me from your high horse – I know that veggies, fruits, and lean meats are your better options.  But, when dealing with people who insist on sweet goodies (as was the case with my Dad), this aisle is one that you will walk down.  At least in the beginning, to entice them to the lighter side.

**Rant Over**

Do you have difficulties maintaining a healthy diet?  If so, let me know in the comments below.

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