Does Walmart Really Make You Fat?

Amy Kuras

Anyone who's visited People of Walmart, or, for that matter, an actual Walmart, has no doubt that the place is chock-full of people who are probably not spending a ton of time in the produce and sporting goods sections. The stereotypical Wal-Mart shopper is a pretty jumbo person.

Researchers now say they have uncovered evidence that simply the act of a Wal-Mart opening near you, whether you shop there or not, can make you gain weight. And no, it's not some crazy obesity rays the store gives off that make everyone around it chubby ... it's because Walmart is known for dropping their prices on food, mostly the processed, low-nutrition, high-calorie stuff. And not only do they cut prices, but surrounding stores do too, in an effort to not lose customers to the Arkansas behemoth. That means people are enticed into buying food of less-than-optimal nutrition and more of it.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that a Walmart opening translated into an average weight gain of 1.5 pounds per person within the first 10 years after the store's opening. The rate of obesity also went up ... two more people per hundred developed obesity than before the store opened.

Much as I love to hate on Walmart, I think that's kind of unfair. A weight gain of only a pound and a half over 10 years isn't going to push anyone over the brink of obesity. And the obesity rate has been skyrocketing in recent years; an extra two obese people doesn't sound out of the ordinary.

That said, I guess Walmart's plan to offer more healthy foods didn't come a moment too soon, huh?


Image via ProgressOhio/Flickr

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