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One of the many challenges our health care system faces is skyrocketing obesity—especially among the poor. But can we blame the under-moneyed for being over-bellied? The Seattle Times posed the question to its ace writers:

Absolutely, writes Bruce Ramsey:

I hear sometimes that poor people eat burgers, chips, etc. because it's cheaper than eating healthy food—in other words, that they'd rather be eating broccoli, arugula and brown rice, but they're stuck with hot dogs from the 7-Eleven. I used to work in a 7-Eleven, and I saw what people on food stamps bought. It was the same junk everyone else bought, and not because it was cheap. Potato chips aren't cheap. They're convenient. Most of us buy them sometimes as snacks. But people who eat potato chips and microwave burritos as a substitute for a home-cooked meal are doing it because they don't want to take the trouble to cook. And that's a lazy way to live.

Heavens, No! responds Lynne Varner:

We yuppies love to tell people to eat healthier. But we ignore the challenge for the poor embodied in this advice. Good nutrition costs money. We can preach that a kid ought to pick an apple over a bag of chips or when at a fast-food restaurant the salad over the "dollar menu." But people for whom money is a scarce commodity will always choose the cheapest and most filling.

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