PolicyLink in LA Times: “Expanded Grocery Store Access Does Improve Healthy Eating”
Last week, a report on findings by the Archives of Internal Medicine asserted that expanded grocery store access does not necessarily a healthier community make.
Today, in an LA Times Letter-to-the-Editor, PolicyLink President Judith Bell explains why the opposite is true – that more access does in fact have a proven impact on people’s health and eating habits:
Re “Debunking the supermarket myth,” July 17
The article on an Archives of Internal Medicine study fails to highlight evidence showing that low-income men changed their eating habits when they had greater access to healthful food. This finding echoes what recent studies have repeatedly shown: Increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved communities changes residents’ eating habits.
One multi-state study found that African Americans increased their produce consumption by 32% and whites increased theirs by 11% when given healthier options.
Most problematic is that the report’s data are from 1985-2001, before obesity became a
21st century national epidemic. It doesn’t capture the dramatic decline of grocery stores in low-income areas and communities of color, where obesity rates are highest.
Comprehensive strategies are needed to combat America’s obesity crisis. Expanding access to fresh food is one of them.
The writer is president of the nonprofit advocacy group PolicyLink.
Have thoughts on other ways to encourage healthier eating habits in underserved areas? Tell us now in the comments section.