Siting markets in ‘food deserts’ no quick cure for obesity, study says

Feb. 3, 2014, Los Angeles Times

By Melissa Healy

The logic seems simple enough: The consumption of healthy foods is low and obesity is high in neighborhoods where supermarkets are notably absent; so, opening supermarkets in those neighborhoods should boost consumption of healthier foods and drive down obesity. Right?

Not so fast, says the first American study gauging the success of a popular initiative aimed at combating obesity: improving access to fresh produce and healthy food in the nation’s “food deserts.”

Six months after the grand opening of a new supermarket in Philadelphia, the study found, residents of the surrounding low-income neighborhood were not eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, nor were they less likely to be obese than were low-income Philadelphians across town whose neighborhood continued to be a food desert. Continue reading

Healthy food rarely convenient for urban minorities

Oct. 16, 2013, Medical Xpress

By Valerie Debenedette

Despite the prevalence of corner and convenience stores in urban neighborhoods, many residents have to travel farther to find supermarkets that offer a wide variety of healthful food choices, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study also found that supermarkets in lower income areas and with more people on public assistance had significantly less variety and offered fewer healthier foods.

A 30-block area of west and southwest Philadelphia was selected for study by the researchers. Residents were 75 percent black, 15 percent white, 6 percent Asian, and 1 percent Hispanic, with 28 percent of households living in poverty, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Continue reading

There’s more to ending childhood obesity than ‘Eat Less, Walk More’

July 10, 2013, EducationWeek.org

By Ross Brenneman

The American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation held a joint conference in Washington yesterday about fighting obesity in America. The conference, “Signs of Progress,” highlighted 11 areas in the United States with declining obesity rates, with teams of panelists and keynote speakers brought in from those places to discuss successes.

The “why” of the conference is plain and simple: Obesity is an epidemic. Physicians now classify it as a disease. Two-thirds of the United States is overweight. According to a June 2013 United Nations report, among populous nations, the United States trails only Mexico in adult obesity rates, and that itself is only a recent development. Continue reading

Philadelphia School District reports progress in reducing childhood obesity rates

Sept. 6, 2012, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The overall obesity rate among Philadelphia schoolchildren fell more than 4.5 percent between the 2006-07 and 2009-10 school years, according to a study published today in Preventing Chronic Disease. The decrease, from an obesity rate of 21.5 percent to 20.5 percent, was reported among male and female students ages 5 to 18 from all racial and ethnic groups. The largest declines were seen among African American boys and Hispanic girls. Continue reading