Saturday, October 25, 2014

Food Deserts are a Lie

I was watching a program on Hulu and one of the ads was for an organization seeking to end food deserts.  I was shocked.  We've known food deserts were a myth (at the most charitable), or perhaps a deliberate fabrication.  This was reported on in 2012 by a paper no one can call a Right wing rag:  The New York Times.  Here's that article:  Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity

That's a very kind and understated title given the actual findings of the studies.
"...two new studies have found something unexpected. [Poor urban neighborhoods, called 'Food Deserts'] not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.

"Within a couple of miles of almost any urban neighborhood, 'you can get basically any type of food,' said Roland Sturm of the RAND Corporation, lead author of one of the studies. 'Maybe we should call it a food swamp rather than a desert,' he said."
There's great food available in poor urban neighborhoods.  That means if we'd like to help with childhood obesity, we should be teaching poor urban parents about healthy choices and preparing the fresh, healthy food that is abundantly available to them.  Both of those goals are admirable, and not a function of government.


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