Childhoood Life Trajectory


Meet Amanda and Megan! Both of these women are 40 years old from the same city in the United States. They are both the same ethnicity and have incredibly similar genetics. Consequently, they should be very similar women–genetics explain everything right?

In actuality, these two women are very different at the age of 40. Megan is healthy, fit, and has not been hospitalized for any serious complications. On the other hand, Amanda is type 2 diabetic, has a BMI in the 97th percentile for women her age, and her doctor has concerns about future heart problems. When we look at their overall quality of life, it is evident that Megan is fairing much better than Amanda.

So can we really narrow down these differences to genetics? Or do we have to consider other social, biological, cultural, and institutional factors that could be causing these difference?

Is Amanda herself to blame for her poor health conditions? Should we applaud Megan for her high quality of life? Is this an issue of personal agency or do we as a society have a collective responsibility to step in and help Amanda achieve health equity? While the issue of individual vs collective responsibility can be applied to several different aspects of poverty, this webpage chooses to focus on food access and quality as a case study of this general issue.

To get a sense of how these women ended up where they are at age 40, let’s rewind time and meet them as young girls:

Click on the image of Amanda or Megan to learn more about her childhood! 



    • Urban neighborhood
    • Her parents’ combined income is $30.9 thousand a year
    • 19,474 people per square mile
    • Ethnic breakdown: 87% Latino, 10% Black, 1% Asian 1% White
    • Her parents never received their high school diploma (just like around ¾ of the residents in South Central)
    • Parents are in their early 20s
    • Crowded, rented household
    • In her neighborhood, around 7 violent crimes and 22 property crimes occur each week
    • At elementary school, API rank of 2/10, 95% of students are on free or reduced lunch (1).
    • Park acres per 1000 people: 0.6
    • Prevalence of childhood obesity: 31.9 (2).


    • Suburban neighborhood
    • Her parents’ combined income is $69 thousand a year
    • 9,817 people per square mile
    • Ethnic breakdown: Over ⅔ White, 13.5% Latino and 3.5% Black
    • Parents have four year college degrees/Bachelor
    • Parents are in their early 30s
    • Live in a house with her just her and her two parents
    • At elementary school, API rank 9/10
    • Bring own lunch to school (3).
    • Parents have their own cars (4).
    • Park acres per 1000 people: 3.1
    • 14.6% childhood obesity

Today, you get the chance to follow Amanda and Megan through the course of their early childhood. You can do so by either following them one at a time, or by comparing them simultaneously.

Amanda and Megan’s statistics are based off of the average demographics of South Central Los Angeles versus Santa Monica. 


  1. The Los Angeles Times. (2000, January). Historic South-Central. .Mapping L.A.. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  2. County of Los Angeles Public Health: Office of Health assessment and Epidemiology. (2007, October). Preventing childhood obesity: The need to create healthy places. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  3. The Los Angeles Times. (200, January). Historic Santa MonicaMapping L.A.. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  4. Avameg. (2014, January 1). Work and Jobs in Santa Monica, California (CA) Detailed Stats: Occupations, Industries, Unemployment, Workers, Commute. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  5. Amanda and Megan image. Retrieved from


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