A recent study found that access to healthy food doesn’t mean eating better
Bringing healthy food to underserved areas has little impact on changing bad eating habits, according to a recent study, The Atlantic reports. The theory that giving poor people more access to healthy foods would improve their nutrition doesn’t pan out, according to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Princeton and the University of
Pennsylvania, which was published in the Chicago Policy Review.
The new study found that after controlling for education and income differences, variations in proximity to food explains under 10% of the variation in eating healthy foods. The researchers also pointed out that building grocery stores that stock healthier fare had little impact on what the area’s residents consumed.
The findings support earlier studies that found no relationship between what a store offers and its customer’s body-mass index. Improving access to fresh food only enacted slight changes to food consumption.
What does appear clear is that income has a large role in nutrition, not necessarily access to healthy food. So the better focus should be on poverty, not the location of the nearest grocery store. While it’s easy to blame obesity and poor eating habits on the scarcity of healthy food, it seems like poor education and
low income are better predictors.