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Does where you live influence your weight & fitness?

AliciaHollywoodAliciaHollywood Member, Premium Posts: 97 Member Member, Premium Posts: 97 Member
I live in a small section of LA (West Hollywood) where almost everyone is slim and fit. Of course a lot of people move here to try to become actors or models so we have an inordinate amount of attractive fit people. I have two Whole Foods within 1 mile of me, three Trader Joe’s and many other stores/restaurants that are mostly organic, vegetarian or vegan. It is actually rare to see obese people where I live, it’s pretty much non-existent. But even if I drive a few miles to Culver City, I start seeing a few more heavy people and notice that the Ralph’s (Kroeger) supermarket actually stocks different food! There is much more organic and healthy food in my neighborhood Ralph’s than the one in Culver City. Is it supply and demand? More people buy healthy food in my neighborhood so they stock more? Also, when outside of LA or California, I’ve noticed there seems to be so many more overweight people.

I sometimes wonder if living where I do is actually a really good influence on me and makes it not only normal but expected to eat super healthy. I’m rarely even around situations where there is unhealthy food without at least a healthy option right next to it (ie all parties tend to have a veggie and fruit plate if they also have chips or other non-nutritious food.) I see in my direct neighborhood more super healthy organic specialty brand superfood products than I have ever seen anywhere. I personally love that health is so important here. The only weight I ever have to lose are vanity pounds that are often not even noticeable to anyone but myself.

I’m wondering if people’s neighborhoods can influence people’s weight, health and nutrition levels. I have no overweight friends. I rarely see anyone above the “normal” weight in charts when I’m out and about. Most people are definitely on the low end of normal. People here actually look like the people in movies and on TV (because they often ARE or want to be lol.) If other areas started removing junk food from supermarkets and stocking more healthy nutritious food, would that change the health of America? Is eating healthy or unhealthy just a habit that people get used to depending on where they live and what their circle of friends/family eat? I know there are many psychological reasons people either overeat or develop eating disorders, but is it possible than many overeat unhealthy food just because it’s “normal” where they live? Just curious...
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Replies

  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Member Posts: 5,936 Member Member Posts: 5,936 Member
    Your network of friends and social group tends to influence it, so I'd guess on average where you live and the culture thereof would be important.
  • glassyoglassyo Member Posts: 4,902 Member Member Posts: 4,902 Member
    I live on an island too.

    I was gonna say "bubble" but yep!
  • Theoldguy1Theoldguy1 Member Posts: 1,406 Member Member Posts: 1,406 Member
    Actually junk food does make you fat. All the salt, sugar and chemicals makes you crave more salt and sugar so you eat more junk food full of empty calories and chemicals.



    "Empty" calories is a meaningless term. And citation needed on the claim that "chemicals" (which chemicals?) cause people to overeat. Every food is full of "chemicals," because every food is entirely comprised of chemicals.


    To be honest the CDC uses the term "empty calories". I'm guessing they use it for a very specific purpose

    Eating Behaviors of Young People
    Between 2001 and 2010, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among children and adolescents decreased, but still accounts for 10% of total caloric intake.10
    Between 2003 and 2010, total fruit intake and whole fruit intake among children and adolescents increased. However, most youth still do not meet fruit and vegetable recommendations.11,12
    Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2–18 years—affecting the overall quality of their diets. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.4 Most youth do not consume the recommended amount of total water.13


    https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/facts.htm

    Now nothing saying people can't consume "empty calories" within reason. The CDC feels, at least for those 2-18, they are consuming too many of them. Chances are those over 18 are too.
  • lolly2414lolly2414 Member Posts: 187 Member Member Posts: 187 Member
    Definitely! I live in a small Midwestern town (about 30 minutes from the nearest city). We have a Walmart and a Kroger as our grocery options. They are smaller than the typical size for those stores, and carry limited organic fruits & veggies, and almost no truly healthy meat items. They also carry limited options for some whole grains (pasta, bread, etc.). I'm 50 minutes away from the nearest Whole Foods type store. We have no Trader Joes in the city nearest us either. Our produce (especially the fruit) is awful looking. So, we just have to buy what we can get most of the time (especially now with Covid). The sad part is that we have like a dozen fast food restaurants and 3 pizza chains in our town, so no problem finding a selection of junk to eat. Thankfully, we keep a pretty good size garden and can freeze and can a lot of our veggies to use in the winter months.

    Also, I prefer to do most of my exercise (that doesn't involve weights) outside, but I have asthma so once the temperature drops below 50 F I really have to stick to indoor exercise only (so like 5 months per year). I've known many people who have done a great job losing weight during the warm weather months only to pack it back on during the fall & winter. We also don't have a lot of exciting places to go in my area, so food festivals are a big thing here, which isn't helping anyone eat healthy. I am thankful though that our town has a few really nice walking/bike trails and a surprising number of people use them regularly. We also have a great YMCA (although it's not affordable for a lot of families).

    Edit: I do want to say that yes, I think it's possible to make healthy meals with the options we have in our town. We just don't have as many options as people who live in large cities do.
    edited August 21
  • lemurcat2lemurcat2 Member Posts: 5,936 Member Member Posts: 5,936 Member
    I see that this has taken a different turn than I expected initially. (I admit I skimmed the OP so missed the focus on superfoods and so on.)

    I DO think that where one lives (and the social group one is in) likely affects weight, on average. I've found it easier to stay in shape when most of those I spent time with were into outdoor activities, physical fitness -- it helped encourage me to focus on those things as hobbies, and it's fun to be able to go for a day long ride with a group vs having to get in training on my own. Similarly, it's likely easier when the restaurants people want to go to have healthier (or simply lower cal) options, when parties where food is brought or supplied tend to have more of those options, and just generally where it's expected and assumed people will be fit. There's more social pressure that can be hard if one is fat and no one else is, but I think that makes it -- on average -- harder for people to decide they are okay with being overweight too. (Not impossible, as I am in a social group on average where people are not obese and yet I was for a while.)

    I also think seeing others get in shape can be motivating -- it was for me when a co-worker lost a bunch of weight.

    There is research that shows that weight is influenced by one's network of friends and acquaintances, as I said initially, so living in a city that takes fitness/outdoor activity seriously would seem likely to matter too. And of course having a walkable place to live and places to safely exercise outdoors or that encourage outdoor physical activity (like beautiful trails) would help too, IMO.

    I do not think one needs special stores -- outside of living in a food desert, of course -- to be fit or healthy. I shop various places and could be perfectly fit and healthy even if I only went to my local Jewel and never any specialty stores or WF or whatnot (I do love farmers markets and buying from farms, but I don't need to do that to be fit). Nor do I think organic has anything to do with weight/fitness.
    edited August 21
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