Low Income Americans Not Eating Healthy Foods

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

The U.S. Office of Minority Health states that in 2009, Latinos and African Americans were respectively 1.2 and 1.5 times as likely to be obese as whites, with the racial disparities even more pronounced among children. A contributor factors to this might be that fast food restaurants are universally more prevalent in poor and minority communities and that these neighborhoods lack access to quality food markets.

California became the most recent state to launch a sweeping food-access initiative when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Healthy Food Financing Initiative into law on Oct. 6. The bill declares that “access to healthy food items is a basic human right.”

First Lady Michelle Obama also pledged to completely eradicate food deserts in America by 2017, saying that if people want to eat healthily, “they shouldn’t have to take three city buses…to go to another community to make that possible.” Corporate retailers have answered the call; in July, executives from Walmart, SUPERVALU, and Walgreens promised to open or expand 1,500 stores in communities designated as food deserts (comunities where at least 1/3 of residents live over a mile from a supermarket).

It is not the lack of acess to healthy food that keeps Americans from consuming it. A recent study that tracked over 5,000 people in several cities over 15 years found that greater access to supermarkets “was generally unrelated to diet quality.” Low income levels, abundant fast food restaurants and race, were much more reliable predictors of poor diet and health than the number of supermarkets.

Food retail is only one component of the total food environment that affects how people eat and, more fundamentally, their health,” explain researchers from the National Academy of Sciences in a 2009 study. “The supply of healthy food will not suddenly induce people to buy and eat such food over less-healthy options, especially when relative prices of the healthier foods are high.”


Title: Why More Americans Can’t Access Healthy Food

Author: Julianne Hing

Publication: Colorlines: News for Action, 2 March 2012

URL: http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/03/tracie_mcmillan.html


Title: Walmart Can’t Lead us out of the food desert

Author: Joseph Jung

Publication: Colorlines: News for Action, 27 October 2011

URL: http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/10/wal-mart_cant_lead_us_out_of_the_food_desert.htmlhttp://colorlines.com/archives/2011/10/wal-mart_cant_lead_us_out_of_the_food_desert.html

Evaluator: Maria Jimenez (Management At Santa Rosa Olivers Market)

Student Researcher: Julio Rico, Sonoma State University