Retailers, consumers and prices
Adam Drewnowski, director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle, says the United States needs to take home economics into account as it battles childhood obesity and attempts to eradicate “food deserts”.
His comments come as first lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission to reduce childhood obesity within a generation. They also land on the heels of a White House task force report that made several anti-obesity recommendations, including using cash incentives to bring more healthy, affordable food into the nation’s food deserts.
Food deserts, in general, are poor areas that are not served by traditional grocery stores. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 23.5 million people, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income areas that are more than a mile from a supermarket. Many of the people in that group are poor and about 1 million of them do not have access to a car.
“Ensuring access to healthy, affordable foods is absolutely the way to go, however, access needs to be measured not only in terms of distance. It needs to be measured in terms of economic access,” Drewnowski said. “I think we’re making the assumption that if only a grocery store were closer, everyone would be eating fresh asparagus all day.”