Low-income families don’t limit shopping to ‘food deserts’

March 20, 2014, MinnPost

By Cynthia Boyd

Social-welfare experts have long assumed poor people, hampered by transportation difficulties, grocery-shop close to home at small corner groceries or convenience stores — “food deserts” that mostly offer high-sugar, highly processed, less-nutritious foods.

Inner city neighborhoods, particularly, have worried public-health officials who want to expand the availability of nutritious foods for low-income families.

But fresh research from the University of Minnesota, while far from suggesting that food deserts aren’t a problem, does indicate that lower-income Minnesotans who receive government aid to put food on the table go the distance for their food buys. Continue reading

Food options near schools may up obesity risk

Nov. 9, 2013, MedPage Today

By Rita Buckley

The number and kinds of food outlets near schools may be associated with higher rates of obesity among public school students, according to new research.

Data for nearly 13,000 middle and high school students in 33 public schools in New Jersey showed that nearly 25 percent of the students were obese compared to the national average of 17 percent, according to Xuyang Tang, M.S., from Arizona State University, and colleagues.

They found that an added 0.1 mile in the distance between a school and a healthy food outlet increased body mass index (BMI) z score by 0.0111 (P<0.01), and raised the probability for obesity by 0.4 percent and for overweight or obesity by 0.5 percent. In addition, a 0.1 mile increase in the distance between a school and the nearest convenience store led to a 0.05 rise in BMI z score, they reported at the American Public Health Association annual meeting. Continue reading