Fat Homeless People

Some people are bewildered by the existence of fat homeless people. They just don’t understand how this could be. Of course most people asking that question are usually insinuating something negative about homeless people, but I’ll not address that here. Others are just so far behind the times that when they think of homeless, they think of 1940s poverty and John Steinbeck’s, “The Grapes of Wrath.” Instead of addressing those misconceptions, I’ll only provide information about what contributes to weight problems for homeless people.

Homeless People Are Fat Before They Become Homeless
If someone was fat before becoming homeless, more than likely they will continue to be fat while being homeless. So, we have a lot of overweight people in this country. And with a certain percentage of them becoming homeless, no doubt some homeless people will be fat. Losing weight takes a long time, even when on a diet. And, rent being so high these days, and landlords being less than lenient, it usually takes less time to lose the ability to pay your rent or mortgage and be evicted than it does to lose your excess weight.

Most Food Provided To Homeless People Contributes To Weight Gain
Look at the food given to homeless people. It’s usually cheap and easy to prepare. There are a lot of bad things there, like bread and pasta and fried chicken and spaghetti and lasagna, all which contributes to weight gain and a pot belly. Chips, crackers, soda are not healthy food either. They contribute little or nothing of nutritional value, and often leave a person even more hungry than they were before. Many people give fast food gift certificates to the homeless, even I recommend doing so (but only because of circumstances), yet we all know how fast food contributes to weight gain and overall unhealthy people. Fast food is the cheapest of all, and when conserving money, a fat greasy burger may be the best if only option.

The Living Conditions Of Homelessness Contribute To Weight Gain
Whether staying in a shelter or in a city alley, sleep deprivation is common. It is easy to image how difficult it is to get sleep outside in a city, but most if not all rescue missions purposely make conditions unpleasant as well, believing that comfort inspires people to stay homeless. Of course nothing could be further from the truth, but people running shelters are not usually the smartest. And homeless life is stressful, whether you stay on the streets or in a shelter. Both locations are dangerous and difficult to negotiate without getting into trouble, or getting hurt. And people naturally compensate for stress by eating more. The availability of food also fluctuates. Food can be plentiful on the streets, and then without warning, food will become scarce. This too can negatively effect one’s metabolism. In cities like Nashville, two meals or more a day are almost guaranteed. But in other cities, one meal a day is the best homeless people can expect.

Anyway, sleep deprivation causes weight gain by slowing down metabolism. And many people react to stressful situations in life by overeating. So, their appetite increases. With an increased feeling of hunger due to the stress of being homeless, combined with a slowed metabolism due to sleep deprivation and other factors, and the only food available is unhealthy fatty foods, gaining weight should be obvious and expected.

Intelligence Plays A Role In Good Decisions
That may sound like a no brainer. (pun intended) Although you can find people of every intellectual and educational level among homeless people, many of the homeless are under educated and have under average intelligence. When they are given an opportunity to control what they eat, they do not often go for healthy foods. When they get food stamps and other subsidies they are likely to choose candy and sodas over fruits and vegetables. Nutritional education would help these folks, but such things are not always available to homeless people. Personally, I do believe there should be more restrictions on what people can buy with food stamps and the like, as a way of circumventing this problem. Still, it is easy enough to sell the value of food stamps for cash, so such restrictions would have a limited effect.

The only things in homelessness that could lead to weight loss are drug and alcohol addictions. Other than that, you will find most homeless people maintaining the weight level they had before becoming homeless, or actually gaining weight.


About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless


  1. I mostly saw it as exploiting a captive audience for an opportunity to ram religion down their throats (Joel Osteen meme -style) and various forms of petty moralizing like throwing out the ostensible gays in the middle of winter and lecturing what was more than half flagrantly disabled, injured, or ill (when not dying outright) people on the Protestant work ethic. Just as preaching the Gospel was mere obeisance while ineffectual in their Calvinist soteriology, so is their “mission” to “feed the poor.” To the extent there was much more than risking and occasionally actually giving us food poisoning with the refuse they gave out (e.g. whatever Krispy Kreme threw out a few days ago, other food disposed of by restaurants and grocery stores because it was too old), it was the bare minimum or less.


  2. Kevin, I've been homeless for over a year now in two different cities and I've run across about 6 or 7 different shelters and I agree with you for the most part. I think these people running these shelters do more harm than good.


  3. Hasty? I have lived homeless for 15 years, and I base my opinions on that treasure trove of experiences. You ignorant fuck. The problem with the maority of these people working in shelters is that they have no idea what they are doing, and more often than not they cause more harm than good.


  4. Anonymous

    Lol, “people who run shelters are not the smartest”. You freaking yell at society for judging the homeless, and you throw down a hasty insult about people to actually do things to help the homeless? that's classy, dick.


  5. Lets just say that if you find youself homeless, dieting goes way down on the list. It's seems that if you loose your home you should also loose people judging you until you get back on your feet.


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