Studies question pairing of food deserts and obesity
Many health advocates combating the ballooning nationwide obesity rate have faulted the lack of freely available produce as primary cause of the obesity epidemic. Two recently released studies are bucking that conventional wisdom, however, and may change the way organizers confront the obesity problem.
One study found challenged the oft-cited belief that poor urban neighborhoods are often food deserts. Another failed to find a relationship between the type of food sold in a given neighborhood and obesity among its residents. That could change the battle against obesity, according to the New York Times.
Some experts say these new findings raise questions about the effectiveness of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic simply by improving access to healthy foods. Despite campaigns to get Americans to exercise more and eat healthier foods, obesity rates have not budged over the past decade, according to recently released federal data.
Still, many advocates cautioned against blowing this evidence out of proportion.
Some researchers and advocates say that further investigation is still needed on whether grocery stores and chain supermarkets in poor neighborhoods are selling produce that is too costly and of poor quality. “Not all grocery stores are equal,” said John Weidman, deputy executive director of the Food Trust, an advocacy group in Philadelphia.
We’ve reported extensively on food deserts – both urban and rural – in the Midwest, which are a persistent problem.